Ritual for Peace

Bishop Paride Taban, London 2015. Photograph by Tom Price

Bishop Paride is a peacemaker of epic proportions. At 80 years old he has more than a few accomplishments to his name, not least establishing Kuron Peace Village and winning a UN prize recognising his efforts in promoting peace in his beloved, war- torn South Sudan. We reckon his daily ritual has something to do with it.

I always start my mornings very early to do my exercises. I’ve done this for nearly 20 years. I don’t miss it.

Even if I’m driving — when the time comes I stop the car and I run around it 1,000 times, walk fast 1,000 times, jump like a frog 100 times, push up 20 times, and swim in the air about 100 times. I twist my waist 100 times, I stand on one leg 100 times and then the other leg 100 times.

You have to keep that going every morning to renew your memory.

That is trauma healing.

Because of the war in South Sudan most people are traumatised. We who work with traumatised people inhale their trauma, so we have to get rid of this. When you are traumatised you cannot help other people; you have to make yourself the healing of the healers. That’s why I do these exercises every morning.

As I do this I say,

‘love, joy, peace, patience, compassion, sympathy, kindness, truth, gentleness, self-control, humility, poverty, forgiveness, mercy, friendship, trust, unity, purity, faith, hope.’

And then

‘I love you, I miss you, thank you, I forgive, we forget together, I am wrong, I am sorry.’

These words I repeat when I do my exercises and as I do I examine myself: ‘Am I keeping these? Are they really in me or am I just saying them?’

I have to see in which of these 20 words I am weak and during the coming day I reflect on them. And these keep you healthy, get you out of stress, get your heart to relax; you can live even with inevitable problems, be calm in things that you cannot solve, or cannot correct. You can correct where you can and where you can’t, you are able to live with it.

That is trauma healing.

This article first appeared in Do Not Tiptoe, a magazine featuring stories from all over the world about living life in a more connected and kinder way, by the Christian Aid Collective.