What Does “Your Pen. Our Sword.” Mean To You? by Mary Kay Williams
John Henry Newman, 19th century English churchman and writer, was memorably said to have prayed with a pen in his hand. Which leads me to reflect, “What do I pray for or intend to achieve at the point of my pen?” It’s been less than twenty years since the end of the bloodiest century in all human history. So might the intentions for peace, truth, and beauty resonate even more strongly now and be reclaimed as rightful domains of the artist?
The DG tagline, “Your Pen, Our Sword,” holds the promise of protection, of defense, even while it assumes a swagger of confrontation or readiness for war. We’ve had enough wars over the past 100 years and on such a scale as would make the angels weep. Yet depending on our intentions as writers, the saber might be allowed to stay in its scabbard or a safe zone somewhere in between.
That “somewhere in between” came to me recently, and I turned to the Guild for guidance. From a region deep within Brazil, an email had come from a youth leader asking to translate and perform one of my plays. This time, the DG sword was used to point me in the right direction on some issues.
Youth yearns for transcendence, a destiny, and to be uplifted from a world that shows them so much despair and futility and anger. Witness school shootings. I can’t protect them from evil or darkness, but I would be negligent not to try to show some good in something I write.
I believe the DG sword in our Guild’s tagline will best perform now and in the future as it has done for years: in a raised-high salute to the diligent, creative efforts of its members whose “divine spark” (to borrow the term of the late Pope John Paul II), breathes new spirit into the air of the day and has value beyond commercial and popular success.
In 1955, in the middle of that bloodiest last century, Jill Jackson and Sy Miller wrote a folk song that quickly became a sensation, although its intention still has not been fully realized: “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” So may it begin anew with me, with you. Instruments of peace (to evoke a theme of St. Francis). My pen. Your pen.
MARY KAY WILLIAMS wrote the stage adaptation of Myles Connolly’s novel, Mr. Blue, selected by Sheen Center as first in their New Works Series. Her plays include Peter and the Angel, While Rome was Burning, The Last Alabaster Jar, and John in Ephesus. Mary Kay is collaborating with Edward J. Keating on Sacred City Alive!, a musical. She serves as Resident Playwright at Richmond Catholic Theatre in Virginia.