It is mid-day on Tuesday, March 22, a perfect day of sunshine, warmth, and blue skies. I am at a retreat house in London, a quiet respite from the bustling crowds of tourists and general merry-goers of the city. During my presentation this morning—Vincentian Values and Leadership Course—a woman was mowing the lawn while other guests relaxed with coffee on benches, enjoying the morning. I had lunch at the Yurt Café (look it up) of a cheddar cheese panini at a table with fresh tulips in a small vase. Our participants are off on a data-gathering assignment. They will report their findings in a couple of hours. It is such a quiet and peaceful place here today.

Meanwhile, my boss was telling me about the 101,000 tins of meat we delivered to Kharkiv, Ukraine, and how my Vincentian friend, Vitaliy, was loading up smaller trucks to get the tins delivered. He said 65 people were living in the basement of our project there. They were in the basement because the Russians had blown a hole in the roof. For eight minutes the shelling stopped giving them the opportunity to get the tins out. The recipients will not be getting their lunches with fresh tulips.

I never know quite what to think these days of being in Paris or London when the omni-present news is about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the world-wide response to that, especially helping refugees escape and the great effort to get supplies of food and medicines to Ukrainians left behind. After all of our horrible wars past and bloody dictators, how is it we still have not found a solution for resolving our differences? I cannot imagine Ukrainians ever trusting their neighbors to the east after this bloody mess.

In the morning, we travel to The Friars, a Carmelite retreat house, formerly a monastery, in Aylesford, Kent. It dates back to 1242—we will be eating in the same dining room as the monks did then. I think we use the same bedrooms, too. Perhaps here we will be able to sort out the evil in the world from the good in the world—at least a little.

Fr. J. Patrick Murphy, C.M., Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Public Service at DePaul University and Values Director for Depaul International, an organization that serves homeless people in seven countries.