My friend Diana has committed herself to work for peace. Now that her sons have grown into independent men, she has turned to helping all of us understand the power of peace over war, the gift of giving over receiving, the necessity of doing what one can. The Peninsula Peace and Justice group was gathering at a local church to listen to the experts talk about the necessity of extricating our country from Iraq, changing our world view, and acting on understanding, rather than fear. Car processions, one from San Jose to the south and another from San Mateo up peninsula, would converge at the church at 5PM.
Rather than ride in the car convoy Diana had another idea. As we were having a five o’clock tea one evening she announced, “We should walk.”
“But, we always walk”, I told her.
“Yes, we do, but this time I want you to walk with me in my peace procession,” she replied.
Hmmm, I thought, I love to walk, but am I a peace walker?” Then, I thought, of course, I can walk for peace. “OK, I’ll do it.” I told her. Barbara, another friend, also said yes. The three of us set out to walk five miles along El Camino Real, the road that follows the California coast originally linking the Spanish missions and now connecting strip malls and suburban sprawl.
Dressed in pink, a boom box playing John Lennon’s “Imagine” in one hand, and a peace banner in the other, Diana took the lead. The bright pink banner embroidered with “Imagine Peace” fluttered in the breeze. Barbara, wearing a long braid down her back, a wide skirt wafting from her waist, and beads at her throat, carried an umbrella against the threatening rain. I showed up in shades, a green hooded jacket, and black workout pants. We started out. I felt a little foolish. But then something happened.
At street corners while we waited for the light to change, Diana told people, “We’re walking for peace. Come and join us.” Many people were tempted to just drop everything and come along. One young women wearing flip-flops was set to join us. Only the reality of five miles on the hard pavement in little rubber sandals stopped her. Some people in cars smiled, others hooked their horns, or gave us the thumbs up. A group of teenagers heading in the opposite direction gave us a rallying cry. As we approached the church a couple of women came out to greet us.
Diana was smiling as she entered the church. Our walk complete, I was satisfied with finding community among strangers and quietly slipped away.