By Alice Soto
Organizers gathered in Seal Beach, CA at the Naval Weapons Station for a Peace Rally during the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions. See photos from this action below by Mike Chickey and a reflection by organizer Alice Soto.
What a great day this was! A day of gifts! We arrived at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway/Seal Beach Blvd at 10 a.m. on Saturday Sept. 26th to begin our Peace Rally for the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions. We had a great group young and old. Lots of by-passers who honked, waved, stretched out their fingers with the peace sign and generally kept us supported. In the meantime, there were walkers, bicycle riders and people who waiting to board the bus who bothered to take a look at our signs and some asked how to contact CNV.
One young woman, Jesse, was particularly interested in knowing why were present there. I spoke with her for a good half hour. She moved here from Utah a couple months ago to find out her purpose in life. She writes a blog about her experiences. She said that she did not grow up ever knowing that her life mattered, thus her present search. She said that the person she was when she arrived in So. Cal. and person she is now has changed because of her experiences. She has concluded that she has veered toward seeing her life as retired from the expectations of others her age. She will no longer work at a job for the sake of a job. She has determined to make her life count. She said she was impressed that our group would give the time to publicly show what we believed. She asked if she could take our pictures and the signs we were holding. I gave her a reference to the fact that Jesse was the father of King David – she said, “I spell it the same way.” Most impressive about her besides her youth, beauty, and curiosity is her passion in searching for her “bliss.”
I gave her my email – my phone was out of juice – so she could let me see her blog. Maybe she will, maybe she won’t – I felt like Pope Francis – “encuentro” happened – we dialogued, met eye to eye and hugged a couple times! Wow!
The second person I met happened as I was waiting for Wayne to help me take down the banners. She is a mom and had her teen daughter with her. She wanted to know how to contact CNV since she feels called to take care of battered women and create a shelter. She says she feels called by God to do this. Her embarrassed daughter moved away from us at this time. I gave her the CNV website and told her what we were about and why we were standing on this corner. She went on to say that she had mistakenly debarked at this corner because she was lost and needed to get her bearings. She also mentioned that she was homeless. I asked where she would find shelter today. She was not sure. I told her about Catholic Worker in Santa Ana and since she had other housing questions about the apartment which will open up for her in 2 weeks, also about Catholic Charities. She went on to say that her daughter didn’t want her to tell about their situation and her mother’s “call.” So we had a conversation about vocation. She thanked me for not disapproving what she believes to be a true “call.” She talked about Pope Francis and message she was hearing of compassion and mercy and was touched. She cried, we hugged and she moved on to the bus stop.
The third situation involved noticing a young man at the end of our event whom I hadn’t previously noticed. He happened to be a sophomore at Chapman University I had met on Thursday. We were both standing in the food line waiting for forks. I asked him what he was studying. He said, I am majoring in Peace Studies with a minor in Economics. I immediately thought of Bishop McElroy in San Diego. I told him about his article in America magazine and his interest in the disparity of our present system. We spoke for a few minutes and I encouraged him to get in touch with Bishop Bob since their studies have similar interests. Seeing him with us today was a surprise. I asked how he came to be with us. He said that he found the flyer on our event on the ground and picked it up. Wow!
Besides these encounters being the conjunction of the planets, I think the Pope’s visit is going to have far reaching effects, especially for those who do not feel included in the humdrum of daily life and those who feel dispossessed. I believe the Holy Spirit is presenting opportunities to “open our eyes.” As for me, I am grateful.
It was hot, it was tiring standing and it was a wonderful day!