Tag Archives: Peace

Everything is exactly as it should be

In every given moment, we have everything we need.

Roads not taken are well not taken.

Paths that challenge us lead to the highest good.

Failures tell us we are early on the path of learning and must keep working hard, not that we are on the wrong path.

People enter and leave our lives at the perfect time for the perfect reason, even when it feels oh so wrong.

People who harm or frustrate us teach us timely, necessary lessons.

Injustice opens our eyes to the need for higher potential and leads to greater good.

Everything is exactly as it should be.

stanley-park "The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone." - Oswald Chambers

Good will, then peace

many-ChristmasesAt the end of my Tuesday post, Charlie Brown reflections, I tagged on the Christmas story that Linus recites in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Since Tuesday I have discovered how deeply Linus’s scene touches people. People have told me it’s their favourite scene. They have told me that as soon as Linus says “Lights please” a peaceful quiet descends on a room, and that all movement stops until Linus says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

The King James version of the Bible isn’t used in my progressive Christian church very often anymore, but Christmas is the one time of the year I wish they would. Other Bible versions cannot match the lyrical rhythm of the King James Luke 2:10-14.

But I’ve been mulling this passage over in my mind since Tuesday. I’m a stickler for non-gender-specific language, so I would rather have the words “all people” at the end instead of “men,” but I am willing to live with it in this case as a nod to a time when we didn’t know better. If I had to change something, it would be the order of the last phrase of the last line: “. . . and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The writer of this passage wished for peace first and then good will toward all people. Wouldn’t it work better the other way around?

If we had good will toward all people, peace would follow.

So this Christmas, no matter whether the season is a secular one or a religious one for you, show good will toward all people. From that, we make peace. 

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Luke 2:10-14 (Arlene version)

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and with good will toward all people, on earth peace.

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The power of one, for outreach or for disturbance

2012 Habitat Bolivia 255The Sunday school lesson I taught the kids at my church this past Sunday focused on the affirmation “What I believe in my heart is what I show in my actions.” The quote came from the A Joyful Path curriculum; their way of saying “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

We talked about kids who had accomplished remarkable feats of social justice and outreach. Ryan Hreljac, for example, at the age of 6 planted the seed for Ryan’s Well Foundation. One six-year-old believed in his heart that all people should have access to clean water, and his actions helped to build more than 803 water projects and 1012 latrines to bring safe water and improved sanitation to more than 769,558 people.

Wow.

Imagine if all of us believed something so simple in our hearts and took actions to help bring it about.

When I returned home that day, I clicked into the Poetry to Inspire blog to read Jean Kay’s poem “The Power of One.” She included a series of pictures of thousands of snow geese gathered in a farmer’s field enjoying tranquil peace, only to be disturbed by an eagle. (See it here: http://poetrytoinspire.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/the-power-of-one)

Wow.

Do you remember a time when one disruptive presence barged in to destroy the productive peace of a large contented group?

Sometimes I feel I don’t have much power to affect change in the world. What can little old me do to make a difference? But we all hold much more power than we realize—to help others or to disturb others.

If I ever forget this, or on those days when it feels like a far-out, crazy notion, I’ll click on Jean’s pictures again as a reminder.

A table in the presence of thine enemies: forgiveness or threat?

cup-of-hope“Thou preparest a table in the presence of thine enemies.” —Psalm 23:5

The challenging, troublesome, dangerous thing about the Bible, or any faith-related book, is the different ways readers interpret the passages. The quote above is from the famous 23rd Psalm, a touchstone passage for many.

For me, the line above signifies forgiveness and peace. It says: “You might be in conflict now, but someday you will resolve the issues, you will forgive, and you will eat together in peace.

Lovely, right?

Then someone went and ruined it for me. A man who I will call a Negative Nellie if it’s possible for a man to be such a thing, said, “Oh, no. That passage is about revenge. It says that enemies have to be disarmed in order to sit and eat, so it’s a threat to your enemies. It’s saying they will be vanquished and disarmed, and you will put them at your table so you can gloat.”

His interpretation deflated me. I felt like I had gone to the movies to see Field of Dreams and ended up in a theatre watching Carrie instead.

The same passage interpreted in two different ways. Maybe it’s another “roses or thorns” situation that says more about the reader than the passage itself.

I prefer Field of Dreams, and I’ll stick to the rosier interpretation of the passage, too.

What do you think?

Desiderata

What part of “Desiderata” do you need today?

Do you struggle to speak your truth and be heard? Do dark imaginings haunt your nights? Are you having trouble believing that it is a beautiful world?

I had a poster of “Desiderata” in my room at university; its words steadied me through four years of study. I often glanced at those words on the wall in times of stress, frustration, or joy. No matter what was happening in my life, something in “Desiderata” fit the situation.

“. . .  whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should” is a touchstone phrase for me. I sustains me through those times when I wonder why this crazy life if unfolding the way it is.

When a loud and aggressive person disturbs my day, I think,You are a vexation to my spirit.” The phrase helps me determine the people with whom I should spend more time or less time.

I celebrated my 50th birthday recently, so the phrase, Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth” ran through my head often.

Read through these words today, and draw from them what you need to approach the day with a smile and renewed hope.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927