December 2004 (VOl. XVII, No. 11)
'Is there enough Silence for the Word to be heard?"
Peace be within you, dear friends! How do we learn to experience a true, lasting peace without an opposite? Listening in the Silence and heeding the Indwelling Word of Peace through love, not fear, seems a blessed beginning. Pass PEACE on ...
If we want to live like a feather on the Wind, we must strive at least once a day to taste the peace of paradise that dwells within us. We need to find some time each day to sit quietly in peace, in stillness, savoring the mystery of God within us. Such silent sitting will not only prepare us to find "eternal rest" at the time of our death; it will help us find infinite peace in the midst of the problems of life.
Peace always begins within each of us. Our ability to create in the world depends on our ability, first, to work to create peace in our own lives. It's much easier to advocate peace on Earth than it is to be able to bring peace your own home. Or your own heart.
Let us pray for planetary peace ...
peace in every nation
peace in every town and city
peace in every neighborhood
peace in every home and famkily
peace in every heart
Grace and peace be with each friend of silence.
May our love and peace radiate out to the world.
May Peace prevail on earth!
O, Great Peacemaker
You make your Home in our hearts,
as Loving Companion Presence.
In the Silence, we come to know You;
With unreserved, radical trust,
our path is made sure.
Bonded in Love, we become empowered
to serve with mercy and justice:
One with You
One with All.
Blessed are You, O Life of our Lives!
Hear our grateful prayer,
O, Blessed Peacemaker!
Mattie Stepanik is a personal friend and one of the most remarkable young people I have known. He wanted to be a peacemaker and through his poems and own courageous example, he proves that finding peace within one's self can lead to harmony among families, communities, and nations. With wisdom and uncomplicated vision Mattie reminds us how easy it is to forgive others, to find something amazing even in athe most trivial things, and to celebrate the little gifts of each day.
He looked at me, standing up on the back of the room near the door, so tense, so close to tears, I was ready to open it and run out. "You held up your truth. Now go on holding up your truth. You want world peace right now. So don't be so optimistic, you might become complacent. You must take care of your aspiration to compassion. Just WANT to make these changes, just take it on with joy. If it doesn't matter to us how long it takes for world peace, we can have it right now, with complete joy."
If we learn anything from the peace that is in us, it is that it represents the highest good to which no only persons but whole people can be called, and we cannot be content with our own serenity and, at the same time, indifferent to the swirls of anger that threaten to rend the fabric of society all around us. To do so would be to make of ourselves hypocrites, content to save ourselves and lose the world.
The Way is everything. It's not a particular direction or a special way of doing something; it's a circle with no outside and no inside, just the pulsating of life everywhere. It excludes nothing. Therefore, as peacemakers working in the world, we exclude nothing. We'll pick and choose according to what's appropriate for us at a certain place and a certain moment. But we won't be attached to what we choose, for everything is the Way.
'Tis not in seeking,
'Tis not in endless striving
Thy quest is found.
Be still and listen.
Be still, and rink the silence
Of all around.
Not for the crying,
Nor for Thy loud beseeching
Will peace draw near.
Rest, with palms folded,
Rest with thine eyelids fallen --
Lo, peace is here.
The quality of life is in our own hands. But shaping it takes a spirituality of balance. "We should be peaceful in our words and deeds and in our way of life," Angela Foligno wrote. It was ancient spirituality, tried and true. And I understood it in a new way. I wrote,
"It's so true. Peace is a choice. If I didn't worry, didn't fear, didn't react negatively to things, I wouldn't be disturbed by them."
Be completely empty.
Be perfectly serene.
The ten thousand things arise together;
in their arising is their return.
Now they flower,
returning to the root.
The return to the root
Peace: to accept what must be,
to know what endures.
In that knowledge is wisdom.
Over the months, I kept on sending Boss a daily supply of tobacco, always wrapped in a page of BEING PEACE. One page at a time he came to like Thich Nhat Han. Every now and then, Boss even tried his best to meditate, but he was never able to stay awake early in the morning.
After eighteen months Bosshog as released from the grip of San Quentin and from the dependence on me for tobacco and BEING PEACE. Before he walked off the tier, he stood in front of my cell and together we recited what had become Boss's mantra whenever he was about to blow his top:
"Man, man ... If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace."
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