The story goes that in agricultural times and even in times before industrialization. We lived slower lives. Yes, we might have worked from dusk to dawn during growing seasons, but there were whole periods of time when we could rest, and spend time with friends and family. Without as many distractions, stories were a way to pass time and pass along culture and history. Slow times leave spaces in between. That space is Peace.
And chores were often communal. Women put up food together and made candles, clothes, and baskets. Men gathered in crops and raised barns. Children herded the grazing animals to their seasonal grazing lands. Repairs were often shared. Again, stories were shared. Traveling laborers, such as spinsters (yes, that’s where that word came from) visited one farm after another, plying their trade for cash and bringing along tales from other places. The Peace of others became our Peace as the yarn and the stories were spun and we were woven into the stories.
Life moved more slowly. You’ve heard me rail during the winter holidays that the lights are so bright and people are so busy. Winter is a time to draw inward. When was the last time you had nothing to do but contemplate the snapping fire before the winter holidays? When people sat not in fast, bright conversation, but slow thoughtful silence. Sometimes the silences were broken. Sometimes they were not. These quiet times made space for the inward journeys, for our personal Peacepaths. There was Peace in the quiet of the indoors, Peace in Nature’s Winter Silence.
This week, after a lunch, I invited a friend to take a drive to look at a hill full of flowers with me. We both had little busy plans for the afternoon, but we scrapped them in favor of standing in the midst of a field full of purple. We chattered on the way there and on the way back about the incredible Spring we’re having, too early, too early, with everything in bloom at once. Her daughter was born in early May, and that year the forsythia was blooming then. This year, it’s past peak. It was a luxurious afternoon of learning one another’s stories. For both of us it was a reminder, for her about why she lives here and will not leave, for me, why I came back and have settled here. It was a slow after noon. A time off. A time apart. It was a time of Joy. And a time of sweet Peace.
I came back home and discovered I’d made a mistake in yesterday’s work. I set to work to fix it. For once I didn’t feel so pressed. I was, in fact, decompressed. I could fix the mistake without berating myself for having been wrong. I didn’t let it disturb my Peace or my ability to participate in a wider Peace.
Respite brings Peace and offers the time to consider new possibilities. This week, I offered myself respite by taking the first really warm day and going to the lake. I took a short stroll in the chilly water. I didn’t go above my knees, but oh, there was not only the Peace of the moment, but also the peace of the memories.
Won’t you sit down with me? We can just be quiet and relaxed together. Listen to that bird, music, quiet… isn’t it amazing. Later let’s get a snack, shall we? Tomorrow we can make another kind of Peace.
Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Blessed be.