Peacemaker Ponderings

Success! I Found the Joy!

It was not my intention to write this week’s blog as a follow up to last week’s. But then there were those November Days — which were late Summer/early Autumn days — completely out of season in which I braved the chilly waters of the lake at Half Way Dam and water walked. Twice. Such Joy, even as I had to dance around in order to catch the Sun and not become too chilly as the Sun sets earlier in the mountains and casts a shadow on the lake.

Later that evening, a full Moon rose in a clear, still light sky. I walked past a couple sitting outside a restaurant and laughed with them in recognition that they’d gotten the Moonside table. They’d had no idea it was a Full Moon that night. It will probably be the last night they’ll sit outside to eat until the other side of Winter. They’d even put their phones down to observe and appreciate this month’s celestial spectacle!

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Find Your Joy, No Really, Find it!

The reason I capitalize Joy when I’m writing about Peace is because I’m writing about something larger than small joys. 

Some reading helped me to discern how real that distinction might be. In particular, I was wondering if people with depression can experience Joy. Although depression means a lessening of possibility to experience Joy/joys, there can still be a place for it.

In particular, I’m referring to a focus on those things that make me feel particularly alive. For me, that is being in what scriptures refer to as Living Water. It’s a challenge for me right now that the temperatures have dropped and I am not walking in the water. I haven’t replaced that yet, neither the exercise nor the experience. 

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Believing in Peace, and by Extension, Myself

Peace is possibility. Endless possibility. This was the conclusion a friend and I drew at the end of a long conversation.

Possibility exists, but it’s not necessarily easy, any more than Peace is easy. But both are so worth the labor!

There are probably two challenges I struggle with most when working on Peace and Peacemaking. The first is keeping Peace grounded. It’s easy for people to talk about Peace as something ephemeral… which very quickly becomes not real; not possible. Peace is Possible. Peacemaking can be an act as small as extending a supportive hand. In fact hand offered to hand — offered to another hand — and on, and on — is probably the most concrete building block in Peace. Seeing people. Acknowledging their need. Extending a hand that may help or comfort is a foundational to Peacemaking. That extended hand helps people realize that not only can they survive, but they also now have the ability to thrive. There’s nothing ephemeral about surviving and thriving.

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Locating Myself in Nature Through the Seasons’ Turnings

“Outdoorsy” is not an adjective I’d use to describe myself. And yet… Some of my most cherished memories are of being outside in Nature.

Perhaps we’ve conflated the notion of the outdoors with the activities of outdoors — suggesting that being out of doors impliess doing rather than, at least some of the time, being. 

The other day, I had to do a writing exercise that entailed listing 100 favorite memories. It was remarkable how many of them took place outdoors. There were a couple memories of running in the rain and cross-country skiing, now long in my past. But my list also included plenty of times writing on the beach or on the lip of a canyon, recollections of reading under a tree or alongside a creek. And oh! Outdoors winter hot-chocolate!

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Community Tending is Peacemaking

The number of fatalities in the wake of Hurricane Ian are still climbing as the clean-up continues. What is clear is that most of the deceased are elderly. As a woman who has suddenly found herself in that age cohort, it gives me pause. 

As always, I have questions. Why? Were they slow to heed warnings? Were the warnings mostly on technologies that aren’t part of the lives of most seniors? Did they not take warnings seriously? Was there no place to go — or no way to get to safety? Do we become rigid in our age, and think we’re invincible and we know better, even as we become physically frailer, and often, and, this hurts, are we not thinking clearly? And then there’s that other question… Where are the family and community connections that involve people in preparation and decision-making, that help everyone get to safety?

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In Our Hands

Peacemaking isn’t a trickle-down activity. It requires believing in possibility and living into it. And sometimes it just depends upon our taking matters into our own hands.

As I was reading about hurricane Ian clean-up today, I read about two guys who spent the day before the hurricane hit picking up more than 350 pounds of trash on the beach — trash like lobster traps and other things that can do a great deal of damage blowing about inland. (I’m not sure where I read this and haven’t found it again, sorry.) A father and son joined them and they piled up the trash which was then picked up for disposal by their city. These two men have been plucking trash from beaches for years. One has promised to do it as long as he is able. In particular he works to clean up mangrove swamps because these trees do so much to sustain the environment.

These are men making Peace. No one is paying them; they are caring for the planet in the way they can manage and are making a difference in the health of the beaches and the mangrove swamps. Additionally, they are being joined by people who also wish to take responsibility for their world.

This article led me to information on “plogging,” which started in Sweden in 2016. Plogging is a combination of the Swedish word “plocka upp” and “jogga” — to pick up and to jog. Apparently some 2,000,000 people plog daily in ten countries. That’s 2 million people a day making a difference on our planet. 

What if another 2 million started doing something else that was good for the planet or people and ultimately themselves? It seems that plucking trash while jogging or walking burns more calories, and tightens the waist as you stretch and bend. People are becoming healthier while caring for the planet. That’s a win for the people exercising. That’s a win for the planet. That’s a win for Peace. 

As soon as we get involved in one such thing, we get involved in more. If we ask others to join us, they are far more likely to join than they are to start on their own. People find that Peacemaking is peace-giving for themselves. People have told me that they will start working on Peace when they are at Peace. My experience tells me that it works the other way around. Focusing on Peace has led me to be more peaceful as my understanding of what is really important to me changes and becomes more and more focused on Peacemaking.

I believe the actions we choose can make a positive difference for people, for the planet, and for Peace.  I believe that on some level, Peacemaking in ways small or large, is what we desire to do. You and your efforts for Peace make me hopeful. May my work inspire you to hope as well.

Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Blessed be.

This Turbulent World

A friend of mine once had a bumper sticker on her car that read “Where am I going, and why am I in a handbasket?”*

Sometimes, if I’m living in my fear, I look at the world and think that it’s all too much, that so many things are monumentally wrong, there’s nothing I can do or we can do to make a difference. There’s so much war; there’s so much fear; there’s so much hate. 

I get it. There is so much that is wrong right now. The planet is damaged. The hatred is visceral and ugly. The divisions seem overwhelming. And they are. But I strive every day to remember, that this is not all there is. Those involved in this behavior are not the only people in this world. They’re just loud, because anger can be loud.

But you know what else can be loud? Joy. Delight. Possibility. Ecstasy. 

Both fear and joy are contagious, but only one is what we want to foster. And we are the ones who remember that Joy is possible. Central to Peacemaking is the notion that of Possibility. Peace is a heartfelt yes! Hatred is a sneering no. But no is not a final answer unless we allow it to be. 

Now is the time to make different choices. Now, in this moment, is the time time to climb out of that handbasket and turn ourselves around. There are others around who will help us carry that handbasket. Others still who will help us fill that handbasket with things like hope, encouragement and love, that can help others on their journey with us. 

Today I saw an ad from the World Central Kitchen. Jose Andreas, who started WCK, told us starkly that winter is coming and with it an unparalleled humanitarian disaster in Ukraine. But here was his hope: If we start anticipating now, we can handle the need. It is so easy simply to shake our heads at the magnitude of the need. It is helpful to contribute what we can and ask others to be helpful with us. My twenty-five dollars added to your twenty-five dollars added to all our neighbors’ gifts can add to governmental aid and turn it into Love that feeds hungry children. And if not the WCK, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic were recently devastated by a hurricane. People there need help. (WCK is there as well) When I was writing this, Hurricane Ian was bearing in on the Western Florida Coast at 155 mph. And if you’re reading at some other time, another extreme weather situation or natural disaster is threatening.

It can be overwhelming. How do we find the stamina? Let us turn our heads and hearts every day, toward the Beautiful and the True. Get out in Nature and absorb the grandeur — or simply look out the window. Notice Love where it shows up. Revel in it. Tina Turner famously asked in a song, “What’s Love got to do, got to do with it?” The answer is everything. Love has to do with everything that is Peace and Peacemaking.

Where are you heading, handbasket in hand? Who has come forward to share the weight of the basket? Whom have you asked for support? What small and glorious possibility to move from fear to Peace have you envisioned? 

I’ve envisioned us walking toward Peace, handbaskets heaped with what is needed, reveling in the delight of the Journey we share. Share the bounty. Throw back your head and laugh. Peace lies in that direction.

Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Blessed be.

*For those of you who don’t know, there’s an old phrase about going to hell in a handbasket.

Balancing Peace

Thursday of last week was the Autumnal Equinox. The Equinoxes are times of balance. I remember how excited I was when I was told that on the Equinoxes you could balance an egg on end. A couple years later, I learned you can probably always do that as long as you do it carefully, but I thought it was such an apt metaphor. You move from Summer and fall off the edge into Autumn.

Autumn is the season of the celebration of the Great Harvest. Canada is much closer to nature than the US as they hold their Thanksgiving on October 10. Up North, they’ll be pulling the pumpkins out of the fields by then, all ready to be baked into pies. Luckily for us in the US, the pumpkins store well!

This is a season of sorting — what can be used now, what can be saved, what should go back to the ground, and what can be shared out among our neighbors. It’s a time of making amends for our short-comings during the year. It’s a time of forgiving others who also came up short. And it is a time of giving thanks for all that has enriched our lives. 

What gives us sustenance? What gives us Joy? What can we share with the world? How have we fallen short in sharing, or celebrating, or acknowledging another’s humanity.

These are big questions. Asking these questions brings us a deeper understanding of real scope of a year and what its different seasons can mean to us. Not following the eight turnings of the year, most of us have no idea that there are responsibilities that fit the changing seasons. I love following the agricultural calendar for that reason. It’s so important in all of our interactions in the world to ask not only our first question, which is generally what do I get from this, but also our second — what is my responsibility?

Peace is always about responsibility.

Peace is breathing out and breathing in, a receiving and a responding. On this equinox, we gather all these beautiful summer days into our memories and let their bounty spill over into the changing, colorful season.

How do we do that for ourselves, and at the same time make room for others? How do we balance our needs and desires with the needs of others?  How do we take not just what is ours but not more than what we need in order to fulfill our responsibilities of caring for others?  Finally, for our own health and well-being, how do we balance our lives, loves, and work around the balancing of the seasons and the daylight within which we have to work?

Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Blessed be.

“You Tell Me That It’s Evolution!”

The second line of the John Lennon’s “Revolution” switches from revolution to evolution. Wise man. This is what will take us to Peace rather than confrontation.

As we begin to turn our faces toward Hope, we change, we soften, we look forward to expanded possibilities. When I say we change, I mean that our outlook changes, and our abilities to look for new solutions that have everything to do with softening barriers and building bridges expands. 

What would mean to us to live in invitation rather than response? How much easier, how much more Joyous would our lives be? 

At the beginning of the summer, I was allowed back in the swimming pool as part of my healing from my left knee replacement. For the first time in forever, I was able to move easily. More importantly, I was outside, immersed in cool water under blue skies, surrounded by canopies of tall trees — in short, I was completely in my body and in my Joy. 

After the first couple days of being present to that, I realized that I was spending at least a half an hour a day in Joy. It was delightful. What would it be like, I wondered, to live deliberately in Joy? 

I’m a water baby, so while the pool was open, it seemed fairly straightforward to exercise my new knee and my Joy. As the season drew to a close, I needed to reconsider. I chose to move from water-walking in a pool to water-walking in a lake. That offered a different kind of heaven. And this week, I was swimming in the ocean.

The weather will change and I will find my joy somewhere else. I have a bit of time to ponder, because the weather will be warm enough for me to swim in the lake. But Joy is seductive. I’ll find my next joy. As I indulge the Joy, my face lifts easily toward Peace. 

What brings you great Joy? How do you make space for it in your life? How do you allow it to fuel your life and lead you toward Peace? Have you even considered such a thing? Let me suggest that you do!

Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Blessed be.

WWIIFM

What’s in it for me, I always ask. I am a Peacemaker, and I want what’s best for the world. Sometimes what’s best for the world includes personal sacrifice, however, what benefits the world also benefits individuals. It’s important to keep my hopes and dreams and well-being in the picture of Peace, or it will not be Peace for all. Dr. Spock from Star Trek claimed that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one, however Peace includes everyone’s well-being.

If I’m working in ways that include my joy and well-being, then I am in a great place to be generous in my invitations to join me in the work of Peace. At the same time, my heart is full enough to create and keep good boundaries in my invitations.

Peace has boundaries. Those boundaries keep people safe and help them to extend hands and hearts to invite people over and in. But, at the same time, Peace is not enmeshment, or a blurring of individualities. It has space for curiosity and learning. It allows for teaching and inquiry. 

The joy you feel in Peacemaking, gives you strength for the Peace journey. It helps you stop at the precipices and turns and admire the view as well as strategize with others for what could be complicated ways forward.

It is not always easy. Plenty of us are confident we know the right way to get out of situations — without lots of input from others (who are also walking the Peacepath.). But Peace is about the shared path and shared leadership. For those of us whose favorite words include “Follow me!” this can be a challenge. Eventually, however, we learn that there are far fewer missteps and resentment if we build consensus on the journey. Peace is comprised of both daredevils and cautious folx. The Peace way is filled with places where it’s good to go carefully over the new bridge and plenty of places where there’s space to dance wildly on the straightaway.

I know… there are not a lot of resumes that include dancing wildly on the straightaways… but shouldn’t there be? Just as we need to go carefully one by one, shouldn’t we go rambunctiously all mixed up? The careful ones can take joy in the wild rejoicing and the wild can be grateful for the caution over slippery logs. By the time we stop for the night, there will be much more joy and energy to put to food and play and rest, if people’s needs have been met. 

The “follow me!” crowd and the “slow down, you move too fast” crowd will both be relieved. And if we’ve done it correctly, individuals will felt seen and understood even if their place is smack-dab in the middle… 

Walking the Peacepath means knowing not only your values, but also your persona. It’s helpful if you know how you feel about life today. If you know those things about yourself, your journey will be easier and you’re far more likely to invite people to come along.

What is your deepest value? What kind of person are you?? How do you like to take action? How does that make space (or not, oops!) for others who have different interpretations and expressions of values and style? I know all this self-questioning can be frustrating, but it’s exactly like finding comfortable shoes and a decent water bottle for the journey! Good preparation is key to enjoyment — and leaves room for spontaneity! So much to consider!

Peace, Shalom, Salaam. Blessed be.