We certainly are experiencing a continuation of unrest, unsettledness, and uncertainty. Where do we find peace? What is peace? With the ongoing experiences of disenfranchisement, disillusion, distrust, division, and detachment we find ourselves searching for and desiring a sense of peace. “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be amid these things and still be calm in your heart.” These words were given to me from a friend, and she framed them for me, gifted it to me and I can see them every day. These words sent my curiosity on a journey of discovery, how is peace defined, lived, and proclaimed?
St Teresa of Avila said “May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”
St Francis of Assisi said, “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully on your heart.” And we all are familiar with “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.”
Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.” The belief we are or need to be separate from another, sadly, is often the root of the absence of peace and prevents us from finding and treasuring the gift of difference.
The Dalai Lama said, “The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of all kinds.”
Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
St Francis de Sales said, “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
Mother Teresa said,“Peace begins with a smile”.
The common thread I see is that peace begins with me, it begins with you, within each of us, not outside of us. We are the peace our world needs. As a culture, a people, we seem to be looking everywhere but within our own awareness to cultivate and grow peace for our very wounded and troubled world. We live in a society right now that does not always feel physically safe. We are seeing too many human beings being physically, verbally, and emotionally hurtful, intentionally, to others, to our communities, our institutions, and the very core of our being. And we ask why is this happening? It is a challenging question with the potential for a wide variety of responses.
I would suggest that the identified “sides” all have their reasons and yet it is possible there could be common reasons between the groups. The challenge is for the opposing groups to be willing to acknowledge it. When Jesus walked the earth his message from the one who sent Him was to love, and yet we seem to really struggle with it. St Ignatius guides us in making choices in the Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius, as David Fettermen, SJ states “…had a clear destination: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me,” as stated in the Principles and Foundation in the Spiritual Exercises. If we allow this desire, this prayer and commitment to be our foundation, then peace will be known in our smile, in our words, in how we love as Jesus loved, without needing love to be earned and loving others right where they are, without judgement. PEACE…what are we willing to commit to, what are we willing to let go of, what are we willing to do be the “peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of all kinds” – and change agents in our troubled world that is screaming out in distress and begging for peace, begging for love? How will you bring your love to the world today?
Peace and Blessings