About a month ago in the Park I was on post and a woman with a few
grandchildren approached. We spoke for a while, and sadly I don't
remember the particulars - but my focus is always the same -
the Vigil, Thomas founding it, it continuing with Connie and now my
help, anti-nuclear, climate protection and repair, Palestine....
that we do this out of Love for our global human family, that WagingLove with greater ferocity, and greater numbers than the worldhas waged death is our entire hope; that there is no other ....
I could tell she was deeply moved.
At the end, I asked where she was from - Connecticut she said, and
then mentioned that she is the wife of William Sloan Coffin. If you
don't know, and I did, William was Chaplin at Yale during the Vietnam
era and one of the most eloquent, first, most courageous, outspoken opponents
of that horrible, horrible, horrible war. A book that Ellen and Thomas
connected me with that I've excerpted here was my exposure to his
sublime Soul and writings - his essay is excerpted here: Militant Non-Violence, William Sloane CoffinI said that reading more of his work was high on
my list. I mentioned that I'd searched for more of
his work at the DC Libraries, but they had none.
She said she would
like to send me one of his books. We spoke a few more words and then
she left (forgetting to get my address.) I let it go.
10 minutes later she was back - "I forgot to get your address."
Last week a copy of William's "Credo" arrived. Only just now did I
have a moment to begin leafing through. The first chapter is
entitled "Faith, Hope, Love." On the first page of this chapter she
had written a note: "* THIS IS FOR YOU!" Here is what she
had marked, of William's writings (and now I weep):"Socrates had it wrong: it is not the unexamined but finally the uncommitted life that is not worth living. Descartes too was mistaken; "Cogito ergo sum" - "I think therefore I am"? Nonsense. "Amo ergo sum" - "I love therefore I am." Or. as with unconscious eloquence St. Paul wrote, "Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love." I believe that. I believe it is better not to live than not to love."
William Sloan Coffin, by way of his wife Randy.