Commemorating Hiroshima and Nagasaki in New Mexico

by Mary Ann McGivern

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I spent the weekend of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorations (Aug. 6 and 9) in New Mexico. Some members of our Loretto Committee for Peace joined Loretto members in New Mexico to walk with them and to talk about how we can support one another in our community resistance to nuclear weapons.

On Sunday morning, Aug. 9, those of us in Jemez Springs joined a small group standing for peace for 20 minutes under a hot springs gazebo in the center of the village. After the closing gong, the leader, Marilyn, explained to me that when the silence begins she gathers all of us who are present, then adds those who have stood with the group. She includes the dogs and any other animals that have accompanied their persons. Then she enlarges the group to all creatures, to peacemakers and everyone suffering in war. It’s a simple and deliberate meditation that now, having stood in Jemez Springs once, I’ll be included in week after week.

From Jemez we drove to Los Alamos and walked in sackcloth, carrying small plastic bags of ashes, about a mile uphill towards the laboratory buildings. I was arrested there once years ago, but now a wall has been erected to make trespass more difficult. So everyone, about 200 of us who had been walking in silence, sat down to pray for half an hour. Most emptied their bag of ashes and sat in them. Some put the ashes on their faces. (Jonah 3: 5-7 describes the repentance of the king of Nineveh.) Members of the local resistance community cut sackcloth feed bags for people to wear. They collected the ash from winter fireplaces and stoves, sift it and bag it for us.

While I walked, I followed Marilyn’s meditation instruction. I gathered all the Lorettos and all the rest who were walking on Sunday, everyone who’d been to pray previously at Los Alamos Laboratories, everyone who protested nuclear weapons, everyone who worked for peace.

August 9 was also the first anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Mo. If I hadn’t been at Los Alamos, I would have been walking with my neighbors there. I gathered all of the protesters into my meditation and for a little while I walked with my hands in the air as I’ve learned to do in Ferguson. My heart is still full of all those people.

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