By Steve Krout
Steve and Angela attended the Nurturing Communities Gathering October 7-10. More than 200 people gathered from the United States, Canada, and Mexico at Camp Loucon in rural Kentucky for the weekend to discuss Revolutionary Peacemaking in a World of Conflict. Due to COVID it was Nurturing Communities first full gathering since 2017. Koinonia hosted the Southeast Gathering in 2019.
I was thrilled when I heard that the Nurturing Communities Gathering would be at Camp Loucon in Leitchfield, KY. I was eager to see old friends and meet new ones. The topic of the year– Revolutionary Peacemaking in a World of Conflict– was one that I thought a lot about through my life. But there was something else stirring in my soul: in May of 2017, I went camping for a week in Bardstown, KY (less than an hour from Leitchfield.) It was a pilgrimage– I was there to visit the Abbey of Gethsemani, where Thomas Merton was a monk, and the Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University in Louisville.I discovered Merton’s work one day in a used bookstore in 2012 and in him I found a mentor and a friend.That week in Bardstown and the surrounding area gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of Merton. It also gave me a sense of awe as I took in the beauty of Kentucky with its rolling hills, fields of wildflowers, and vast number of streams. I was eager to now take in its Autumn beauty.
When it comes to peacemaking, I have always tried to begin with what Merton wrote in New Seeds of Contemplation: “Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.” Peacemaking must first take place within ourselves and within our communities. And this, I’m convinced, begins with vulnerability— presenting our true selves to God and to one another. If we ever wish to be revolutionary peacemakers in a world of conflict, we must begin by making peace within ourselves and with those we share our day to day lives with. If I witnessed anything in our few days together, it was a people allowing the Spirit to move through their true selves, in their joys and their sorrows. Our gifts and our struggles were shared with one another.
As I walked around the pond one day after lunch, this thought came to me: though we gathered at Camp Loucon from all over, our common home is the wounds of our Healer. We can become vulnerable because Jesus allows us to dwell in his vulnerability.