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Posts Tagged ‘peace’

A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind. (John Neal)

I meet every Tuesday morning with a spiritual group I joined when my older son was a toddler. The subject of hope keeps bouncing to the surface. I could use it.

Watch the news for more than five minutes, and the desire to remain on the couch indefinitely becomes tempting.

Deportation of innocent young people, hurricanes, earthquakes, the exploitation of personal tragedy, hate and greed take over the screen. 

As my friends and I talk about love that reaches deeper than the average Valentine card, I lift my socks-covered feet onto the coffee table. A deep purple bruise has taken over my right foot.

I knocked a few books off the shelf and gravity won. The foot swelling will heal. In comparison to the grief I see around me, this pain is a pinprick. The difficulties we explore are stab wounds.

However, my friend gives me an icepack. Love wrapped in a maroon towel. A symbol of hope. My friends share both encouragement and experience. Not lofty, disjointed everything-will-be-okay platitudes.

I share a short video. A Canadian politician is hassled by someone who confuses Sikhism for Islam. Clarification between the two groups is less important than the interruption centered in hate. Resolution comes through the leader’s call to peace. I hope the welcome greeting eventually touches the angry woman. Prejudice is heavy armor; it restricts movement and disables the heart. Hate armor takes time to build and time to remove.

The video can be found at this link: Sikh Politician Gets Verbally Attacked and Handles Gracefully.

In our small Tuesday group, we pause to check our responses. What preconceived notions do we hold? What views are opinions, taught, not experienced? And not true.

Kites fly through gentle wind; their fabric fails during turbulence. I choose where to fly a metaphorical kite, and where to call for reinforcements.

In the meantime, my foot loses some of its discomfort under the ice. I can decide to pass along kindness with the examples of my friends—or, I can add to the turbulence with discontent.

Peace. Upon all. Whether our political views coincide. Or not.

In the meantime, I will fly into Europe and meet other people. And see other ways of knowing life. Hopefully, I will come back with fresh perspective. And just a little more understanding.

photo-shopped public domain pic

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Change yourself to change the world. Keep it personal today. (Horoscope for Taurus, February 25)

I usually read my horoscope in the daily newspaper, not because it rules my day. I’m curious. Sometimes the advice is so vague it could fit any situation; other times it fits in an odd serendipitous way—like accidentally opening a how-to book to the right page—without effort.

Last night my husband and I went to a fun, well-attended family wedding. I noticed we were seated at a table with relatives who have polar political views. Yet, we did not discuss them. We shared our love for one another. Our lives as they are. I felt blessed. When we separated, I experienced a sense of loss, a longing to see these good people again as soon as possible.

If we had delved into our differences, I suspect the bond could have been tested. The differences need mending. Among families and in the world. However, the breaks can’t be healed in a single discussion. They can’t be adjusted within the us-versus-them void.

Have I changed my mind about laws that affect the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized? Absolutely not. That does not mean I need to react with name-calling. What I say reflects who I am. May the power of the written and spoken word add healing, not pain. Eventually…

can-we-risk-peace

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Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds – all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have. (Edward Everett Hale)

I’m at the pool on a not-too-hot summer day. Jay and I are the only persons in the adults-only side of the deep end of the pool. A woman enters the water. Her expression shouts bad mood, but I swim a bit closer and say, “hello.”

She does not answer until a few minutes later when I try again. I don’t hear every word, but I do recognize her expression—and it isn’t nice-to-meet-you on any level.

“I’m sorry,” I respond in a pleasant tone. “I didn’t hear what you said.”

She shakes her head and turns around. I give her space. And say a silent prayer. For her. The water has pulled out all the pain in my back that has plagued me for the past month. And I am not going to let her misery destroy my healing.

I swim away and within a few minutes she exits the water.

Then a young girl takes a swim test in the lane next to the tread area. “Am I allowed to take breaths?” she asks.

I smile and so does the lifeguard giving her the test.

“Yes, you need to breathe,” the lifeguard answers, her amusement obvious. But she maintains respect for the young swimmer.

The girl has a silent cheering squad. I want her to make it. No, I will not interfere. This is not my test, and on some level I suspect I could be embarrassing her if I spoke. But, I want this young lady to win. To succeed.

When Jay and I leave the pool later I see the unhappy woman in a lounge chair. She seems to be looking around her, as if targeted by people who somehow want to get in her way. Silently cheering her on isn’t as easy as encouraging the innocent young swimmer.

But, I don’t know what this woman faces. If my hello intimidated her, I have no idea what she needs. Nor will I probably ever understand. Saving the world is not my job. Responding with peace instead of hate, is.

pic: Thich Nhat Hanh, walking on earth in peace

walking on earth is the real miracle

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When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. (Marcus Aurelius)

I am treading water at the Y on an ordinary Sunday afternoon. I feel amazingly free in the deep end of the pool as I kick and move my arms through the tepid water. There are not many people here today, so I swim back and forth with no direction planned, no agenda, only the idea that this hour or so belongs to me, my husband Jay, and the generosity of the water.

A woman arrives. She leans against the wall. We smile at one another. Within minutes we are talking. She shows me an exercise that is good for back pain. She tucks water weights under her arms and then relaxes, torso straight, legs dangled in the water. She has had serious back surgery—and has been recovering for months.

However, I don’t realize how intense her situation has been until after we have been chatting for a while. She had pain all over her body. The cause had not been easily diagnosed. She had a congenital condition; she was missing a portion of bone, discs, in her back. That section has been rebuilt, a beyond-major task. Yet, pain has not left her life. It remains. She has not succumbed to relying on heavy medications. She keeps going without feeling sorry for herself.

When I think I have been sufficiently impressed she gives me more to absorb. Her grandson, Jonathan, was born with half of a heart. He was not expected to survive. He has had three cardiac surgeries and is now five-years-old. For him to have survived this long has been a miracle. With incredible calm she says that he will eventually need a heart transplant, but that his chances of survival will be greater when he is older.

“If he can make it, so can I,” she says.

I watch and listen so closely I wonder if I have blinked. My youngest granddaughter is scheduled for open heart surgery at the end of April. This woman’s words and attitude travel through the water and give me more than hope. They bring peace. Worry is counterproductive. Gratitude yields more gratitude tinged with joy.

“So, what is your name?” I ask.

“Sue.”

I can remember that one.

She claims to be an ordinary person. In fact, in an e-mail I receive from her later, everyday-woman seems to be her theme. She has three children and five grandchildren. She emphasizes gratitude and offers prayers for folk who suffer greater losses.

We are all both ordinary and unique, flawed, gifted, and human. To think anyone is superior is delusional. I believe that how we approach each day makes the difference. And no one can judge whether an individual is great or not. Even if one moment brings a person success, the next stress offers the chance to grow or to break—as long as the life-game continues.

Night makes day brighter. Winter makes spring sweeter.

Here’s to the privilege of being alive! Cheers. I lift a glass of water, but the beverage isn’t what matters. It’s the attitude of peace that does.

Thanks, Sue! See you at the Y.

not giving up story not over

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