The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
Forward: Last Monday I was asked to give an opening prayer as well as closing remarks for the Peace March in Riverton led by Ron Howard. This was the second annual Peace March and was held on the first anniversary of the shootings at the Center of Hope, a detox center in Riverton, resulting in Stallone Trosper being killed and Sonny Goggles being seriously injured, both Northern Arapaho. They were not the only victims. The whole community suffered from that act of violence, from which we work to seek healing and understanding.
My remarks included the above passage from Isaiah and what I share below.
I have been fascinated for years by this and similar passages found in the Book of Isaiah. It holds out hope that one day we can all be at peace with one another. Yet, what I cannot fully comprehend is exactly how that is going to happen. What needs to change is the behavior of the wolf, the leopard, the lion and the bear. And should the wolf, the leopard, the lion and the bear change, could the lamb, the goat, the calf and the yearling ever trust that the wolf, the leopard, the lion and the bear had really changed. And would the wolf not fear that should the lamb become equal with the wolf, that the lamb would not seek revenge?
Obviously, the different animals named in Isaiah are metaphors for people who have power and those who are victims of the powerful or at least vulnerable to being used and oppressed by the more powerful. We live in a land where there are laws, like the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, that attempt to protect the less powerful from abuse by the more powerful. Yet we see imbalances and injustices all the time, and we must continue to seek ways to bring the equity and peace found in the passage in Isaiah into reality.
The passage says, “and a little child will lead them.” All of us here today are children of God. All of us have the potential of being that child. This is the second annual Peace March. We had five follow-up community dialogues led by Rosa Salamanca from the U.S. Department of Justice. Now we are at that point where we need to both continue the dialogues and to begin actual implementation. Just like in the passage in Isaiah, it will take all of us regardless of our station in life working together and building trust. What has taken 500 years to create will not change quickly. But we must continue.
A favor I ask of all of you is, please do not criticize or question the motivations of those working to bring the wolf and the lamb together and to build trust between them. They are the little child described in Isaiah. Instead, support the little child or better yet, be the little child.
St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer adapted to say, “us,” not “me,” as we are in this together as community:
Lord, make us an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.