Alicen’s reflections on her peace journey
I have been a part of the wider Agape Community (family, really) since 2009 when I glanced at an Agape poster while sipping from a water fountain during my sophomore year at Smith College. I like to think that this must have been holy water, because it opened up a life-changing path and new connection in my life.
I first came to the actual site of Agape on St. Francis Day in 2009, excited to hear of peace efforts from Israel and Palestine, where I had spent a lot of time in college studying Hebrew and Arabic in Jerusalem. I stayed the whole weekend in this radically loving and open place that emphasized nonviolence regardless of religious, racial, political and economic background.
Coming into such an open-minded Christian community at that stage of my faith development was a saving grace. Since that initial visit and after graduating from college and travelling abroad, I moved to Boston, and now have the fortune of helping lead Agape College retreats like the ones I so cherished as an undergrad and am a member of Agape’s Mission Council. I know that however life unfolds, Agape will always be a beautiful part of my Faith Family.
Excerpts from Suzanne Belote Shanley’s Nomination Letter
Alicen is an inspiration, a model of what can happen at a young age that becomes truly transformational. Cultivating her desire to speak Arabic, Alicen has broadened her Middle East interests related to nonviolence though her work for the past two years at Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries, guiding and instructing inner city youth and leading multi-ethnic and racially diverse programs on conflict resolution.
Along with six new young inductees, Alicen has joined older members of Agape’s Mission Council, which meets four times a year to guide Agape’s ministry.
One of the keenest aspects of Alicen’s inner being is her artistic spirit—she is a poet, sculptor and visual artist. For Agape’s 30th Anniversary, Alicen and others, created a “nest” of straw and other natural elements from Agape land. Participants then placed their “eggs,” or “rocks,” collected from the homestead, into the nest, after decorating and placing messages of hope and peace on the eggs.
Alicen’s voice, presence and spiritual gifts are invaluable as we seek to attract young people to life in community. Alicen is a reminder to all of John Timothy Leary, who died at age 24, in 1982 and who created a lasting legacy of dedication to peace, which Alicen readily embodies.