Not Divided By Age

Specific issues come and go, but the work for justice is never finished by one generation. Yet often the elders of a movement or organization fail to bring in the next generation and share the vision and responsibility. The following essay gives a glimpse of one intentional effort to "pass the baton": an intergenerational blessing ceremony held during the November 1997 action protesting the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. —The Editors

In second grade I attended a small Catholic grade school, the kind where grades K-8 have convocations together in the gym, eat in a small lunchroom that smells like day-old bologna sandwiches, and are permitted the luxury of two recesses a day. One of the nuns, a 50-year-old woman with short, shaggy gray hair and eternally mismatched clothes, was often assigned playground duty. I actually believe she enjoyed recess more than we did. Somehow, that neon orange playground duty vest looked almost natural on her short, thin body.

On days when she was supervising, we never knew quite what to expect. Sometimes she taught us peace songs, other times it was Native American dances, and once she even came dressed in a clown suit and gave us all butterscotch candies. We thought her activities were fun—and all of us were convinced that she was crazy.

I SAW HER AGAIN last November. I was at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, protesting the School of the Americas with a group of students from my college. A priest stood before the crowd and announced an "intergenerational blessing." Following his instructions, the older generations of activists formed a circle around the students. We were to face our elders and they were to raise their hands and bestow a blessing upon us.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1998
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