At about 4:30 in the morning on Thursday, March 23, the phone rings. It's Dan Hunt, Jim Loney's partner. Jim has been freed. After a very full day of talking to the media, I help facilitate a larger-than-usual 5:30 pm prayer vigil. Weary spirits and tired bones are transformed by unspeakable joy.
On Sunday, March 26, Jim arrives in Toronto. We had held him deep in our hearts. We now hold him in our arms.
For days, then weeks, then months we vigiled and prayed. We met, over and over, with wounded hope. Because our efforts did not result in a quick release, we were taken into the more radical meaning of humility - a deeper sense of God's liberating presence beyond even success.
As for faith in God's intervention, we were confronted with the danger and the opportunity of any crisis: we were fully free to act out of fear and hate, or to enter into the dynamics of love, even in the face of death.
The terrible waiting lasted so long - long enough to begin to imagine the suffering of those who wait much longer. For many years I have been ready to die against war. But I have never readied myself for the very different pain of the possible war-related death of a loved one.
I only intuited this other kind of suffering while locked in solitary, serving a prison sentence related to war resistance - and realized how much grief this was causing my family.
The murder of American Peacemaker Tom Fox destroyed optimism. As a faith community, we were drawn more and more deeply into Christ's words about the depth and breadth of love confronting death: "Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul."
So now that Jim is safe, hope moves through a different kind of wounding. The Christian Peacemakers are called "phony pacifists," "dupes for jihadism,' "naive.' The history of non-violence reveals that there has always been a deep current of resentment against groups or individuals refusing to cooperate with the institutions of war.
For our part, this differing perspective is not about ideological disagreements. It is about choices: either confrontation with the enemy is about the "acquisition of a target," in military parlance, or the enemy is an occasion for a "unique relationship with God," as Martin Luther King put it.
We have been killing each other as enemies for centuries. The war in Iraq alone is costing the U.S. roughly a thousand dollars a second. Imagine CPT and other groups committed to reconciliation rather than victory having access to this money. Imagine the Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Iraq getting real financial support.
This is about humanity's choices. And in the end it is all about love. The longest, most demanding spiritual journey is never to another country. It is the ongoing journey from brittle ego - individual or collective - to a self capable of risking compassionate, practical love for others, including enemies.
As Jim put it, "All I really want to do is to love and be loved by the people I love." In the end, beyond our fears and wounds, it is about love.