Reflections on second week of Advent theme – Peace: inner, relational, communal, national/political

Peace begins inside us, then in our relationships, our communities, and our world. All of it relies on connection to something greater than ourselves: Godself.

If there is to be peace in the world, There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations, There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities, There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors, There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home, There must be peace in the heart.
— Lao Tse

Making Peace — Denise Levertov
A voice from the dark called out,
‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

On Inner Peace

The first step is to come home to ourselves. You don’t need to become a Buddha. You need to become yourself. — Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. — Albert Einstein

Spirituality is not to be learned by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be. We must learn to penetrate things and find God there. ― Meister Eckhart

We are mirrors of our world. The world appears to us as we see ourselves. If it is a harsh place, we have, perhaps without understanding, nurtured a harsh place within. If it is a place of beauty, it is beauty we have nurtured within. — J. Wickham

Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it. — Unknown

Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without. ― Gautama Buddha

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart … live in the question. ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace. ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. ― Dalai Lama XIV

“Peace” can sound merely sentimental or clichéd (“visualize whirled peas”). But deep down, it’s what most of us long for. Consider the proverb: The highest happiness is peace. Not a peace inside that ignores pain in oneself or others, or is acquired by shutting down. This is a durable peace, a peace you can come home to even if it’s been covered over by fear, frustration, or heartache. When you’re at peace — when you are engaged with life while also feeling relatively relaxed, calm, and safe — you are protected from stress, your immune system grows stronger, and you become more resilient. Your outlook brightens and you see more opportunities. In relationships, feeling at peace prevents overreactions, increases the odds of being treated well by others, and supports you in being clear and direct when you need to be. — Dr. Rick Hanson, Huffington Post


Relational Peace
The only way we can make peace is for each of us to be the peace we want to see. — Susan Collin Marks

Happiness in relationships thrives when it involves people that already feel whole, secure and happy. These people do not depend on a relationship to give them anything. All of their relationships then reflect the wholeness of what they are. — Adam Oakley

If you approach someone with compassion, you will open their heart and mind. Show them you understand where they’re coming from, and they’ll be willing to see your side. That gives you a chance to express yourself and your expectations clearly. And when you let people know what you need at the right time in the right way, they’re more likely to give that to you. —  Lori Deschene, tinybuddha.com

Sometimes you need to know that you have good people at your back when things go awry in your life.  Good relationships can bring peace of mind, not to mention longer life, companionship, health, happiness, and a host of other benefits.  At bottom, we are social creatures who need each other. — Meg Selig, Psychology Today

Conflicts can’t be avoided. But we can learn to navigate them more confidently and use the tension as an opportunity to express our views honestly and peacefully. … When you have incorrect perceptions of others, it’s easier to fear, even hate them. Get to know the genuine in others. Find shared experiences, hopes, and beliefs. Connect on that holy ground, and peace will flow out from those moments.— Susan Skog, Beliefnet

Take steps to build better relationships (below). — The Living Well Network

  • Make a list of people you would like to see regularly.
  • Remove distractions, like cell phones, when you visit.
  • Be a better listener.
  • Support them in their own efforts.
While Peacemaking is an everyday activity – how you welcome new people at school, how you deal with conflict among your friends, and the daily decisions you make about how to react to frustrations and disappointments – it is also applying these commitments to tackle bigger problems you see in the world. In fact it isn’t enough to put peace first in your daily life; being a peacemaker means working with others to put these ideas to work toward bigger challenges. — peacefirst.org

Communal Peace
Many spiritual traditions and teachings throughout history have emphasized peace, both as an inner journey and as an outward commitment to live in mutual benefit with our families, our communities, and in the world. — Charter for Compassion

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. John F. Kennedy

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. — Desmond Tutu

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. — Robert F. Kennedy

Children, youth, and adults, even in communities in conflict, are choosing compassion and practicing peace, and they are learning to do this through the joy of play. Few things can provide a common link between people like laughter and play. Through cooperative play, we have a universal and non-threatening platform around which people can come together and learn. Play creates a gateway to moments when differences dissolve, fear melts away, and we see what connects us rather than what divides us. — PlayforPeace.org

Islam, especially its divine book holy Quran, demonstrates the prominence of peace and harmony between the communities. Through its verses as in the verse 5:16 (where with Allah guides all who seeks his good pleasure to ways of peace and safety) Quran seeks a peaceful situation  between the communities … All commentators of Quran urged through their works to ensure communal peace and harmony and to take forward the steps of conflict resolution in this society. Especially in secular country …  Musthafa Theyyala, Communal Peace and Harmony: Role of the Commentaries of Qu’ran with Special Reference to Risalae Nur

Communal harmony does not only mean an absence of communal tensions, strifes and riots. It is something deeper, something emotional. Communal harmony implies mutual understanding, peaceful co-existence, cooperation and coordination among all the constituents of a community. Harmony means proper conformity of the parts to one another and to the whole. — Neeraj Dubey, Daily Excelsior.com

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. Nelson Mandela

Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways. —Dalai Lama XIV

Political, Global Peace

A number of other terms and concepts are necessarily related to the creation of peace, including fairness, justice, inclusiveness, and human rights. These must be embedded into the community in order to foster agreement and harmony. Peace is strongest when derived from social justice, which can be defined as ensuring fundamental rights and equity to all. Strengthening civil society – the rules that bind us and allow us to live productively together, with established means of resolving conflict – is the means to those ends. — Charter for Compassion

Everyone must be committed in the matter of peace, to do everything that they can ….Peace is the language we must speak. — Pope Francis

Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are. — Hafsat Abiola

If you want to end the war then Instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending tanks, send pens. Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers. —  Malala Yousafzai, Noble Peace Laureate

To replace the old paradigm of war with a new paradigm of waging peace, we must be pioneers who can push the boundaries of human understanding.  We must be doctors who can cure the virus of violence.  We must be soldiers of peace who can do more than preach to the choir.  And we must be artists who will make the world our masterpiece. — Paul Chappell

What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children . . . not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. — John F. Kennedy

More than just an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars. — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings. — John F. Kennedy

If there is a mystical chord in democracy, it probably revolves around the notion that unexpected music can resonate from politics when people are pursuing questions larger than self… I have seen that ennobling effect in people many, many times— expressed by those who found themselves engaged in genuine acts of democratic expression, who claimed their right to define the larger destiny of their community, their nations. — William Greider

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. —Elizabeth Cady Stanton

If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another. — Winston Churchill

We will take direct action against injustice despite the failure of governmental and other official agencies to act first. We will not obey unjust laws or submit to unjust practices. We will do this peacefully, openly, cheerfully because our aim is to persuade. We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts. We will always be willing to talk and seek fair compromise, but we are ready to suffer when necessary and even risk our lives to become witnesses to truth as we see it.(AND)
So we must fix our vision not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but upon the positive affirmation of peace. We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the discords of war. Somehow we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race which no one can win to a positive contest to harness man’s creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all of the nations of the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a “peace race”. If we have the will and determination to mount such a peace offensive, we will unlock hitherto tightly sealed doors of hope and transform our imminent cosmic elegy into a psalm of creative fulfillment.— Martin Luther King, Jr., Acceptance Speech: Les Prix Nobel en 1964

Themes from Matthew 25 about giving and receiving: doing unto others (and Thanksgiving)

Contemplating Thanksgiving— receiving and giving support — as themes from Matthew 25 about separating goats from sheep and “doing unto others.” When do you need to hold out your hands and open your arms and accept the grace available to you, and when may you be a tangible source of grace for others?

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. — St Augustine

Pie with Spirits Mary Wellemeyer
This is the very pumpkin pie
my grandmother made—almost.
She was a modern woman
who knew how to follow recipes.
Receipts, she called them,
 because they had been received.
She had a rule for pie crust that was constant
until, from time to time, it changed.
I have that rule, in turn, and it has moved on,
just a bit, from where she left it.
This is my special shared moment
with her, departed a quarter century.
As I work, I am all ages of myself,
and the thought of my tall son comes to join us,
though he hardly knew her.
He makes pies with wild abandon,
sculpting them from material and artistry.
He has received pie somehow at the level of soul.
The three of us make pie together,
preheating the oven,
cutting butter into flour, adding water,
flouring a board, rolling the crust.
To honor her, I follow the recipe.
To honor him, I change just one thing.
To honor myself, I take my time and smile.

Receiving Help: Accepting Grace

None of us got where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone’s help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you. — Harvey Mackay

Somebody help me, tell me where to go from here, because even Thugs cry, but do the Lord care? — Tupac Shakur

You can’t change the world alone — you will need someone’s help — and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them. — William McRaven

“You should ask for help,” he said. “I don’t know how to do that, either.”
Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. — C.S. Lewis, character Aslan speaking in The Last Battle

Being first to ask for help in a friendship takes courage and humility. ― Afton Rorvik, Storm Sisters: Friends Though All Seasons

… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. — Matthew 25

Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving … ― Alexander McCall Smith

A lot of the time we don’t know when we’re surrendering that we’re actually, at the same time, maybe establishing connection … to a power greater than ourselves — or something in the next concentric circle out whose name is not me. So, that to me is where help begins. You know, we’re often ashamed of asking for so much help because it seems selfish or petty or narcissistic, but I think, if there’s a God — and I believe there is — that God is there to help. That’s what God’s job is. — Anne Lamott

No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. — John Donne

Inter-being: Tiếp Hiện (接現) is a Sino-Vietnamese term. Tiếp means “being in touch with” and “continuing.” Hiện means “realizing” and “making it here and now.” The translation “Interbeing” (French: Interêtre) is a word coined by Thich Nhat Hanh to represent … Buddhist principles … to describe the essential interconnectedness of the universe … If we look deeply into the nature of our universe we can see all things as profoundly interdependent.

… Without a cloud, we cannot have paper, so we can say that the cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are. If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist. — Society of Interbeing, Thich Nhat Hanh

Offering Support:
Small Acts of Grace

Non nobis solum nati sumus. (Not for ourselves alone are we born.) ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. — Charles Dickens

The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served. ― Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing for Something

No one has ever become poor by giving. ― Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank: the play

Frankly I’m not religious, but I believe in the cause of humanity — doing good work. — Sukhwinder Singh

It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something. May I suggest that it be creating joy for others, sharing what we have for the betterment of personkind, bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely. ― Leo F. Buscaglia

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. — Dalai Lama XIV

While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary. — Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah

The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful then a thousand heads bowing in prayer. — Mahatma Gandhi

We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Little GoatKatie Ford
God is not light upon light, no more
than goat is need upon need
although there, where it grazes, it is sun upon coat
within which ticks and stray-blown feed burrow
into the pocked skin of such foul scent
covering the underflesh heart that could eat
this farmer’s grain or the barren mountain’s bark
high in the solitude of sheer animal peace
laid over sheer animal terror.
We ask the animal afflicted by its time,
its impoverished American meadow
that drove it to find birch from which to strip its easy feed
to abide with us.
It does not need us. We think it needs us.

We must forgive God God’s story.

The Black-Faced Sheep (excerpt) — Donald Hall
Ruminant pillows! Gregarious soft boulders!
If one of you found a gap in a stone wall,
the rest of you—rams, ewes, bucks, wethers, lambs;
mothers and daughters, old grandfather-father,
cousins and aunts, small bleating sons—
followed onward, stupid
as sheep, wherever
your leader’s sheep-brain wandered to …
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