Swords into plowshares, literally (photo by Noah Toly, 2014)

Given the state of world affairs, I can’t think of anything more appropriate to post than my favorite photo from our recent road trip. During the trip, we stopped by the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the site of some of the US Civil War’s fiercest fighting and a turning point in the war.

The battles played out not just over days or weeks, but over months, as Union and Confederate forces traded losses (yes, that seems the right way to put it) in an effort to control Chattanooga, “The Gateway to the Deep South,” a city of strategic importance because of the convergence of railroads and waterways.

Two decisive battles, one at the Chickamauga Battlefield Site and one at the Lookout Mountain Battlefield Site, bracketed a months-long siege of Union troops that had retreated to the city after losing in their initial confrontations with Confederate troops. The town was apparently decimated by the siege, during which the Union forces eventually resorted to dismantling homes in order to use the lumber for firewood.

Sometime after the fighting was over, a woman found a bayonet in a field, and someone in the Roark family “bent and flattened” the blade to make it into a sugar cane knife, which you can see in the photo. The Roark family beat this “sword” into a “plowshare.” As we consider the unrest and violence around the world, this is a symbol of what we hope for. Let us pray for the day when, like the Roark family, we can beat our swords into plowshares.

Today this photo symbolizes hope for “the already” amidst so much “not yet:” President Obama’s request to authorize of the use of military force, Kayla Mueller’s sacrifice and violent death, and the murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

From now on, I’ll be reblogging this every time there is a mass shooting in the United States.

Northern Arizona University

San Bernardino.

And tragically, this reposting practice can’t keep up with the shootings. I should have realized that from the beginning.

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