Nearly a month ago, David Greene, a reporter for NPR, listed all the countries involved in bona fide wars, not skirmishes or protests. African nations run with blood; Asian, Indian, and Latin countries are plotting to overthrow leaders and annihilate the active opposing forces. Greene concluded his report saying, “We are in a season of oppression.”
Sobering thought to be sure. The Season of Christmas caught in a web of animosity and political grievances which some say are irreparable. The Season of Peace hijacked by the greed for power and the leverage of injustice. On one hand, we have great caverns of chaos and on the other, we have good, average believers trying to “raise the valleys and lower the mountains” as Isaiah encouraged in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The poet Dante tried to clarify what lack of peace is in our lives by describing it as a state of chaos—where there is confusion and disruption of the goodness of order. When this state develops we have selfishness, unkindness, envy, and inability to listen to another. Dante says we descend into an inferno of our own making. Many philosophers and mathematicians of later centuries—right up to now—have argued that chaos disrupts the unseen web of life that unites all of us with each other and all of nature. More recently, however, some have developed theories that chaos is not all-that-disruptive if we grasp within it a thread of continuity to restore a more perfect order. That is Christian hope. But while it is rumbling on, chaos unchecked, is the proverbial bull in the china shop. Chaos can create the vacuum of the lack of peace. Hurt, violence, revenge, irreconcilable differences all move into the vacuum and hold us hostage. As one philosopher put it, “Pick a flower on earth and you will move the farthest star.” Without chaos, however, we can enjoy harmony, evolutionary balance, peace.
The good part of welcoming a new year is that we get a chance to evaluate whether we are living true peace and fostering it in our communities. Lynne McTaggart, a popular commentator on biological science and psychological/spiritual growth says that “the heart can influence the magnetic fields (the wave lengths of our surroundings) to making peace and harmony.” Saint Francis of Assisi attested to this in his famous and absolutely beautiful prayer, “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace,” which you might want to pray these next few days. As impossible as it seems, we can help make peace in the world. Maybe the following list will provide inspiration on how to do this:
1. Look into your heart and honestly ask what is causing disruption and chaos in your life? If you can identify it, you are on your way to peace.
2. Choose to pray each day. And when you do, include a prayer for the well-being of people you do not necessarily like. Wish them—and all the people you pray for—the gift of peace.
3. Make a decision to do at least one act of kindness every day.
4. Try to judge less and to do more.
I am including here a beautiful Celtic song titled, “Deep Peace” by Bill Douglas. Listen and reflect on the peace that nature provides. It is my prayer for all of you, those I know and those who are my Anonymous Angels. And, if you choose, send us some comments on how you may have found peace in your life. It may help someone else.
Happy New Year! And Blessed Peace to you.