The Courtesy of Peace

Recently I joined a friend for lunch in a small restaurant with tables fairly close together. The pleasant ambience was interrupted when a car began to back out into traffic from a space in front of the restaurant. The driver of another car laid on his horn, gesticulated angrily and drove the next 20 feet only to stop at a red light. Everyone in the restaurant turned to each other, wondering aloud, “what just happened?” “Why did the other driver need to be so rude?”? Heads were shaken, smiles were exchanged. But then the original car started backing up again, and proceeded into the opposite lane. 

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Walking the Peacepath Home

Recently I had the honor of preaching at my 50th college reunion. While writing the sermon, I realized how foundational the quote at the core of my sermon is to my Peacepath. Ram Dass, who was an American Spiritual Teacher from the 70s who helped popularize Eastern Philosophy, particularly Hinduism, in the US, wrote, “We are all just walking each other home.”

Home means different things to each of us. Ideally, it is the place we feel most loved, safe, and able to truly be ourselves. Peace is the natural home of the human. Yet our world is anything but Peaceful. The news of war, political unrest, and the devastation of climate change is so overwhelming that we feel there is nothing we can do to make a difference.

As a Peacemaker, I believe, that, together we can change the world for the better. To come together, we must both invite people to accompany us and offer to walk alongside on their journeys. We must believe in Joyous Possibilities, rather than sad realities. We can and should acknowledge what is true now, yet understand that Peace demands looking beyond the present. Peace requires a new vision for how we exist together on this planet.  Peace necessitates joining hands and working together to achieve a new reality.

When was the last time you walked with another? What did you talk about along the way?  Were you awed by nature’s beauty? Did you listen to and support one another? 

Walking together in Peace, we’d learn about each other’s values and what causes we are passionate about. We’d find each other’s cultures fascinating rather than frightening. We’d learn about our hopes and what each other needs to thrive. I’d teach your children walking songs and you’d help me carry my bag when my back is tired. We’d look for new people to join our band of Hope.

And as for home? It would keep evolving into something bigger, something more, something sweeter, something filled with Boundless Possibilities for connection, abundance, joy, and healing ourselves and our planet — and doing those things together.

Cat Stevens is still singing about the “Peace Train” that would take the world and him home.

Oh, I’ve been smiling lately

Dreaming about the world as one

And I believe it could be

Someday it’s going to come.

What we discovered at reunion is that, in college, intense times spent in one another’s company developed both a sense of self and the ability to trust. Gathering after 50 years meant time to remember, time to feel safe, time to mourn, time to laugh, and time to rejoice. There was Peace in reconnecting. It wasn’t a distant Peace, it was a road we traveled and a road we are traveling still — together.

Whether we are walking or riding the train, our destination is the same — we’re all on the Peacepath, headed toward that Peaceful Home — together we can find it; together we can create it. What are we waiting for? Time to stop railing against stupidity and greed. Time to walk the Peacepath together. You’re exactly the people I would like to journey with.

Salaam, Shalom, Peace, Blessed Be.

Making Peace with Death

“Life is a daring adventure or nothing.” So wrote the blind and deaf social reformer Helen Keller. Despite hardships, Life is wild and precious. Still, death comes for us all. Choosing peace in death as in life, we are empowered to decide how we will face death. Engaging those we love in that conversation permits them to be our advocates in carrying out our wishes, which affords them peace as well.

Life carries no guarantees except the certainty of death. Perhaps the only way to cheat death is to live fully into each and every day. That way, when death draws near, it finds us full of gratitude for Life’s richness.

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The New Mystics of Peace

Growing up in the 50s and 60’s, my family, like so many others across the country, faithfully attended religious services. There the values of my faith community were taught: The Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, etc. Among all those Sunday School lessons, mysticism was never mentioned. Mysticism is defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience.” That means that mystical experiences can be attained by anyone, not just those living rigorous religious lives in monasteries or ashrams.

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Peace is Filled with Miracles

In a recent Washington Post editorial, Anne LaMott proclaimed that ‘Age Makes the Miracles Easier to See.’ As I read it, I wondered if she shouldn’t have added the word: Again. Anyone who’s ever known a child or two knows that, during their first couple years of life, they spend their days encountering miracles. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a miracle as: 

  1. An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.*
  2. One that excites admiring awe; a wonderful or amazing event, act, person, or thing. synonymwonder
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“No!” Is a Very Useful Word, But, It’s Not a Peace Word!”

Work on this blog post has gone on for weeks. It’s taken me that long to move from rant to Peace-blog — which is the purpose of my writing. What started the rant? The overuse of the word NO! in public and private discourse, often shouted. Ai, yai, yai! 

Oh, I could go on, but it’s exhausting. And you know what else it is? Immature. This is not, as they say, “adulting.” These are the very important expressions of toddlers. This is differentiating. Me. Me, Me, Me! This is a toddler learning boundaries: I’m me. This is mine. I can do this (myself)! As parent, caregiver, and friend, these phrases feel incredibly personal — and very frustrating, however, they are simply moments of discovering the edges of the toddler’s reach, a stage of exerting independence by testing: “No, I’m not going to bed.” “My toy!”

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Making Joy Your Daily Practice

“We encourage you to make the most of this moment,
for it is only in this moment that joy is able to exist.”
The Guides

For quite a while now, I have known two wonderful men who carry messages from Spirit Guides. Every week, I receive an email from them called Wisdom Wednesday.  The quote above is what the guides imparted recently. Tom Workman and AJ Cavenaugh, who are the “listeners”, clarified it this way: “Joy lives only in the now.” If you want to know more about what the Guides have to say when speaking with Tom and AJ, find them at Speaking From Source. Tell them I sent you. 

When was that last time you remember experiencing Unadulterated Joy? It happened to me today when I was preparing and then consuming a tomato sandwich. I’d made the herbed mayonnaise a few days ago. The salt and pepper stand always at the ready. The olive oil bread was a happy co-conspirator… slice bread, spread mayo, thickly slice a heirloom tomato, pile as much tomato on each bread slice as I can, salt and pepper… and ahhhh. Unadulterated Joy. 

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The Endless Work of Becoming (and “Un”becoming!)

Hopefully, as we age, we continue to work to improve ourselves. We understand that we are not one-and-done, but rather we step-by-step our way into healthier, saner, kinder versions of our younger selves. Becoming a Peacemaker is the work of my sixth and seventh decades. 

It’s interesting to me that at the same time we are “un”becoming. Aging “offers” its input here. Physically, I am “un”becoming the person I was when I was younger: I am more fragile, less flexible, and less fleet of foot. I have aches and an occasional pain. My physical skin is thinner and more spotted. (My metaphorical skin is actually much thicker with age, Hallelujah!) If I am interested in becoming older, I therefore must work at becoming physically stronger. Emotionally, I am “un”becoming quite as worried as I was as a younger woman about what others think about me. As a woman possessing her wits, her wisdom, and with a goodly few number of years under my belt, I am dying my hair purple and wearing red glasses that are a perfect compliment to my many black dresses and suit me to a T. (tip o’ the hat to Jenny Joseph whose poem was originally named “Warning!”). Mentally, I am “un”becoming bothered by the shoulds and musts and instead making connections with desires I never allowed myself in my youth. Witness: my Peacemaker’s Tarot for the 21st Century. Talk about things that have never been put in the same sentence, let alone title before!

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“Peace, Peace, When there is no Peace!”*

A friend of mine works as a chaplain at a hospital in another river valley not that far from ours. She forwarded a heart-breaking blog post to me (https://rrayjr.blog), that concerned the racism a young, male Emergency doctor encountered in his residency there. It was, pointed, blatant and horrifying and the institution has not yet figured out how to acknowledge, let alone address, their issues. 

In the meantime, they have lost a fine young doctor; forced him to work under hostile conditions — or lose his years of work in this school; shown themselves to be unwilling to foster the talents of all their students. All of this, in a time when there are already shortages of doctors. 

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Peace Is a Returning, a Trying Again.

As I’ve mentioned before: in Hebrew the word for sin means missing the mark. This is becoming a crucial, central concept in my understanding of building a world of Peace.

We’ve all missed the mark. The response to that is to analyze how that happened, what actions might bring you closer to the mark and try again — remembering of course that you might need to include an apology if someone has been wounded by your actions. 

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