Instrument of Peace

Post date: Dec 31, 2016 5:22:22 PM

When I think of images that inspire awe and peacefulness within me, I see an expanse of smooth snow with sunlight spread out upon it. There are no jagged edges or angry corners. There is just rising and falling and a softness that is calming and that begs the eye to follow it—to just keep going. Let it be known that winter and I have a bit of a doomed relationship. Winter arrives every year and my eyes initially sparkle at the idea of wrapped blankets, hot cocoa, and snowflakes swoop, swoop, swooping toward the earth. But soon after, when winter steadily frightens the light of day away, my eyes narrow to form a glare and my nose wrinkles at the thought of another three months of this. There will always be light and dark in our lives and I could drone on about the necessity of it all and it would all be true, but first we need to know that we all are filled with light and darkness—a penchant for sadness as well as the ability to be happy. We are all in this together. And so that brings me to what was my inspiration for this new year. Just like most people, I need to look to the new year with hope and its promise of a new day, but I cannot set the bar too high lest I get discouraged too quickly and retreat to the shadow convinced I am not worthy of any light. Well, I am. Each of us is.

Sometimes I have preconceived notions of who people are. People in my life. Famous people. Even people who are famous for being incredibly kind and truly good. I might dismiss them with an air of disbelief. Nobody could be that good. I hear a soundbite or see a clip and knowing I cannot measure up to it—I dismiss it as a fluke. I think that is why we are drawn to biographies, to a person’s private letters or to diaries. It shows us that we rarely know the whole story. Through writing in its many varied forms we are often able to see who people really are and that they have struggles just like the rest of us. We are allowed to explore, through the quiet and contemplative act of writing, who it is we really are. Writing can help us dig deep.

to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

And so, the letters of another famous person came to life in a film I saw recently. There was a scene where two women were bringing a man into a shelter to care for him. The man was at death’s door and one of the women made mention that there would be nothing they could do for him. As they lay him down on a mat, the other woman said, “There is no greater sorrow than feeling unloved, unwanted, and uncared for.” As soon as I heard that, I recognized it as a very simple and profound truth. I will hold those spoken words like a lamp by which I hope to light my path through another dark winter’s journey. I need to have something white and beautiful on which to focus—something to inspire me when night seems not to end—and so too do others I meet along the journey.Those words told me that everything we have done and plan to do should be measured by the yardstick that reveals how we have made those around us—friend, family or stranger—feel loved, wanted and cared for. And so I will set my watch by those words in the New Year. I will use those words as my guiding light. I know I will fail at times. There will be times when I will succeed. I will set and undoubtedly need to reset my clock by those words which were spoken by Mother Theresa, before she became known as "Mother Theresa" and by the words of St. Francis of Assisi which I will state below. Mother Theresa spoke them in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize which she accepted on behalf of all the poor in our world as well as all those who feel unloved, unwanted and uncared for.

I do not need to be a saint in order to be a peacemaker. I just need to love.

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek