Stories of Nonviolence: Making A Healing Choice
As we sit in meditation during this Season for Nonviolence, let us envision a grid of Unconditional Love encircling our Globe, supporting all those individuals and organizations working to make nonviolence our planet’s operating principle.
For David Lewis, those 20 seconds in San Quentin experiencing the largest earthquake in California since 1952, were the longest and the most important twenty seconds of his life. For inexplicably, the earthquake shook him more than anything in his tough life had ever shaken him, and seemed to herald a turning point as a strong, overwhelming feeling came over him that he didn’t want to be in this situation any longer ~ he didn’t want to die in jail, and he didn’t want to go back to his old way of life.
Dyslexic as a child and failing in school, David Lewis had never learned to read and dropped out to become one more of the world's many children who ‘fall through the cracks’ everyday. His burning desire to succeed in life unquenched, he had turned to the only role models of success around him and soon found himself a heroin addict by age 15, slipping easily into armed robbery as a means of supporting his habit. In and out of prison for the next 17 years, David learned to read and also chose to experience drug dealing, drug use and gangs.
But at that pivotal moment on that October day in 1989 when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck, although he didn't know it at the time, David Lewis made a healing choice, a powerful choice that was to take him on the difficult but rewarding adventure of transforming his life.
And once that choice was made, the Universe conspired to help him. Two months later, when he was finally released from jail, he did go back to his old life and was rearrested, however, something different happened this time. His parole officer recommended a residential drug recovery program rather than incarceration, and with this opportunity made available to him, David Lewis’ life began anew. In the treatment program, Lewis experienced something he’d never experienced before, genuinely concerned people shepherding him through the difficult times, helping him to transform himself. This had the greatest impact on him and it changed his perception of the world. With that changed perception, he responded positively to the unconditional support, and joined a group of men who had formed what they called a ‘circle’ to talk authentically about their lives of addiction. This is when he finally awakened to the reality of what his path of addiction had done to him and to those around him. David Lewis was able to observe the ripples of his own actions ~ his son and other people adversely affected by his addiction.
Lewis had to transform himself on many levels, and ultimately, he transformed himself into a powerful light of hope by which others have found the courage to take their own steps towards transformation. David Lewis now chooses to walk the Path of Soul every day, and is teaching other inmates how to transform themselves by making empowering choices - choices of nonviolence, choices of the Soul. He speaks and gives workshops at jails all over the country, telling his story and giving inmates concrete and innovative tools for change that he developed in partnership with others. He also advocates ‘moving away from an emphasis on shame, punishment, and the building of ever more jails, toward one of recovery and rehabilitation’ during his lectures to social workers, policy makers, academicians and others.
Strongly desirous of making a positive difference in the lives of others like him, David also co-founded a non profit prevention, intervention, outreach and residential treatment center in 1993 called Free at Last in his hometown of East Palo Alto along with Priya Haji, a Stanford student, and others. Today, it’s reputation is well known in prisons all across the country and it has made a lasting, positive impact in the lives of many local residents, including youth, women and men. But what brings Lewis to tears is the change he inspired in his own son, an alcoholic once imprisoned like him, and now a University student. His son credits him in an interview saying: ‘My father intervened in my life at a time that I needed him.’ The ripples of David’s transformed life are now spreading nonviolence and are a force for good in his community and elsewhere.
When you make a conscious choice to express nonviolence
in your thought patterns, in your speech and in your actions towards self and others, you are making a healing choice for the planet.
As we join our hearts together, know that powerful beacons of Light and Love will shine forth into the world, will join those from others of like intent, and be directed to those in greatest need on our beloved planet.
As we each prepare for the moment, let the mood be one of unconditional love…
…and May the Force be with us!
Please light your candles (optional) and commence with the following peace poem:
With great clarity and love,
We envision each member of our Earth family
Understanding - that we own the power ~ the power of choice
Understanding - that in every split-second of our lives,
we control this immense, oftentimes forgotten power to change our lives,
Understanding - that our power is our choice.
We hold a vision of everyone
Opening to and expressing their capacity
To reach into the authentic depths of their being
And consciously choose the life they envision for themselves.
May we light up our lives and the world
With the power of the healing choice of Soul!
After this introductory vision/meditation/prayer, please express your own vision of peace. (As always, please feel free to modify the peace poem, or to use your own.)
~ Celebrating Great Souls Becoming ~
Please close your peace session with the extinguishing of the candle.
This Peace Circle was inspired by David Lewis and his extraordinary courage to do the most precious work of all - transforming self. It is the 6th in the series of SNV2004 Peace Circles.
‘The greatest book, the greatest symphony,
Is the work you do on yourself.’
– Jean Houston
March 1, 2004