BEARING THE BURDEN OF PEACE
St. Olaf College Nobel Peace Prize Forum, February, 2000
Sculpture and poetry by mac gimse
For Norwegian Nobel Peace Co-laureates David Trimble and John Hume.
The delicate transition between conception and birth is the beginning of BEARING THE BURDEN OF PEACE. One side of this bronze shows a woman holding the heavy burden of her pregnant stomach anticipating child-birth. Mothers feel deep despair when, with or without a choice, they lose a child anywhere from the pre-natal state to maturity.
Viewed from the other side a young man holds up a child who emerges from the woman’s head, imaging her labor complete and her dream fulfilled. Once a child is born, it becomes vulnerable to the outside world, to war, famine, poverty and abuse. Every country in the world faces the need to provide its children with nutrition, stability, and community, which are our continuing burdens of peace.
BEARING THE BURDEN OF PEACE is meant to be touched and even passed from person to person so that everyone will see the image, feel the forms and experience the weight of passing the BURDEN OF PEACE piece.
BEARING THE BURDEN OF PEACE
by Mac Gimse
If peace is a form of ultimate human understanding,
before I pass into the heart of God’s surrounding,
I want to plunge my head into the seas of language
and drink from every tongue only the words of kindness
With the taste of love in my mouth
I want to whisper silence on wars of shouting
at children of abuse, on races from hatred,
between embittered genders,
within unholy religions, and by angered nations.
If peace is death, as in rest in peace,
before I lie down underground – to cease,
I want to swaddle myself in unfamiliar clothing
and nestle into the smell of fresh-dug earth
next to the stones and bones of forgotten peoples.
Then I want to run my fingers through the silt of their sorrows
and quench their mourning thirst for those innocents
who were shed on never-again fields for letting blood.
If peace is kindled in progeny,
before I garland my soul in bouquets of eternity,
I want to spill my seeds of final begetting
into the roots of the mercy tree, from which hangs
the last un-Christly corpse of human harm,
and, for the yet unborn, I want to feel their blood
flowing through my flanks that soak tomorrow,
in the deep red, ages past of all our origins.
If peace is tradition-passing,
before I give up my most prized possessions
of hair and teeth, of flesh and breath,
before I let go of hoards of family and hugs of friends,
I want to squeeze my soul through the martyr’s throat
to feel words of compassion as spoken by the lips of mercy:
If I “love my neighbor as myself,” there can be peace on earth.
Then I want to flood the world with the sweet sounds
of bearing the burden of peace
using YOUR impressions, not just my own,
of how and why we lived.