Category Archives: Peace

Building a Healthier Democracy

I’m going to share a few links here that give me hope.  With the Federal Government of the United States in a shutdown state, many people are feeling tension and the blame and name calling is at an all time high.  I have yet to come across a situation where name calling led to anything good.  So here, I offer some words by some very conscious people.

I came across most of this on facebook.  A place that has allowed me to practice tolerance for differing views.

A question was put forth to Parker Palmer – founder and senior partner at The Center for Courage and Renewal and author of  Healing The Heart of Democracy.  The question was this:  “Please let us know when you figure out how to talk to the teaparty.”

He welcomed the query and offered this: “Here’s a site where you can watch my friend Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn.org, in dialogue with Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots http://tinyurl.com/b527zbt. I’m involved in Joan’s “Living Room Conversations” project (click on the “People” tab on their home page to see my statement about it), and I highly recommend it as one way of responding to your implied question. Thanks again. But please, don’t wait for me to figure it out! We’re all in this together, and all of us working together are smarter than any one of us working alone—certainly smarter than I am!”

Although I only just came across the Living Room Conversations project, and I’m not in any way involved in it, and don’t yet know the participants, I wanted to write about it here to raise awareness.  I personally believe in this process and I have seen how deep conversations can bring about peace, healing, and a connectedness beyond what any of us dreamed possible before sitting down in that field that is beyond right doing and wrong doing.  I practice this with my neighbors, with my husband, with my children and with my co-workers.  I know it works.  It gives me hope.

I follow Parker Palmer on Facebook.  You can check out his page here.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother-Teresa-Peace-card-by-Y

Today is Mother’s Day and I’m feeling grateful to have my babies home (one back from freshman year at College for the summer and the other spending the summer at home before venturing out to College in the fall).  I will be an empty-nester soon… soon, but not today!

Today, the house smells wonderful – of eggs from the chickens in my garden, fried in olive oil.  Cooked for us by my daughter.

I remember a Mother’s Day when the kids were much younger when my husband asked me what I wanted.  I asked for the day off.  He took the kids to a museum so that I could bake a loaf of olive bread from scratch.  That’s what I really wanted.  I wanted to be left alone.  For one day, I didn’t want small messy helping hands around – touching everything – touching me.

While the dough was rising, I didn’t want to answer the repeating chorus of “is it ready yet?” and “why?”

I didn’t want to learn or teach.  I didn’t want to talk.

I baked two loaves that day.

~

This week, has been a week of contemplation for me.  Since the beginning of this year, I have felt the urge to do something with my life.  I’ve had that feeling all my life (except when I committed to mothering)…  If I think rationally, and take inventory, I know that I’ve done a lot with my life.  But lately there’s a real, primal, unsettling urgency to do something more…  I can’t explain it.  Maybe it’s just the anticipation of the coming change.  Maybe, it’s the need for change.  I don’t know.  I just feel like time is speeding too fast and running out.

Of course it isn’t.   Time is time.  It is not linear and it does not run out.  I know this.  And yes, I also know that this lifetime is finite, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  At least I don’t believe that’s what it is.

There’s an urgency about something that is difficult for me to pinpoint.  The urgency feels real.  The sensation is stopping me from functioning and putting one foot in front of the other while tolerating the status quo.  And so of course I am pushing through – putting one foot in front of the other anyway – doing more – despite all instincts – and people are commenting about how “different” I am.  They prefer the old me; gentle, peaceful, spacious and giving.  Lately, I have been moving too fast, giving too much and demanding more as if that would somehow slow things down.

In anticipating the change, I’ve become the change, resisting, and being resisted.

This isn’t new for me.  I’ve been on this edge before.  This tension is familiar to me.  And, before, when I thought it was the end, it turned out to be just another beginning.  I remember the first time I showed up to the edge but refused to jump, I was pushed and I learned to fly.

Who would have imagined that more can be achieved by doing nothing – resisting nothing – dissolving into the moment presenting itself?

The most recent time I was at this edge, I didn’t jump off.  I did the opposite.  I collapsed inwards.  I stopped, stood still and curled in towards my center, my silence, the earth, and nature… And, the quieter I became, the more ready I was for life.

And, when I emerged, everything was right with the world and I carried on.

Is it time to be quiet again or it is time to talk?

~

On the sleeve cover of the DVD Beyond Right & Wrong – stories of justice and forgiveness by Article 19 films, there is a quote from a bereaved mother of a soldier

When the army came to tell me that my son had been killed, the first thing I said was, “YOU ARE NOT TO KILL ANYONE IN THE NAME OF MY SON.”

I shivered when I read that.  Yes.  That’s what it takes.  Our need for peace must be greater than our thoughts of revenge.  And, now I know that I’m not alone.

I watched the movie earlier this week and it gave me hope.  I know we can have peace in my lifetime.  All we have to do is choose to have peace in my lifetime.  I have personally already made this choice.

Check out www.beyondrightandwrongthemovie.org 

It seems appropriate that on Mother’s day, I find myself contemplating peace.

In the Huffington Post, there’s an article from Matthew Albracht entitled ’From the Bosom of the Devastated Earth,’ a History of Mother’s Day for Peace.

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears!… We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.“ ~Julia Ward Howe, 1870
From her Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace

You can read the whole article here.

~

This morning started with my daughter handing me a printout about the life of Julia Ward Howe and in the spirit of honoring her, she had hand made something for me – a painting that I’m not allowed to share with anyone.  She’s in the midst of studying for her finals but she took the time to paint something for me.  She too must be feeling the fast approaching milestone.  I’m a mom.  I can tell.

Perhaps, like me, she too feels the need to leave something of herself behind.

Mothers in society are the first Lamas

mothers - first lamas
From my facebook feed this morning

There is nothing more powerful than love.  And to teach our children the power and value of compassion is to give them a gift for life that grows the more they share it.

I believe this to be true because as mothers, we are driven by our highest purpose.

Motherhood is not a job.  It is a calling and being a calling it is informed by something Greater.

There’s a simple exercise that I shared with my daughter when she faced a challenging situation at school with one of her teachers.

Basically, here is what the exercise was all about:

  • Become really still, and quiet your mind.
  • Breathe.
  • Put your attention on your heart and feel compassion.
  • If it’s difficult to feel compassion for the person that is challenging you, then feel compassion for anything you love like your pet dog, for example.
  • While holding that feeling in your heart, visualize the energy of that feeling in a bubble surrounding the challenge you are facing.
  • Know, that no one is born wanting to be mean.  That maybe something, somewhere along the way, forced them in that direction and, feeling compassion towards them, gives them permission to remember who they really are.  They might just start returning the compassion.
  • Expect nothing.
  • Just practice until it becomes easy to do.

My daughter (a teenager) rolled her eyes at me when I first introduced the idea but I guess when she was faced with no other alternatives she must have tried it because a week later, in passing, she said:  “You know that exercise you told me to do?  It worked”.

A Heart Broken Open

From my facebook news feed…from  Women For Peace And Doing Something About It

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
~ Rumi
A heart broken open is not a shattered heart. It is a heart unafraid to shed tears, unafraid to be vulnerable, unafraid to weep, unafraid to name its own demons and to refuse to project them onto others. A heart broken open is a heart full of receptivity to the healing love of stranger, of animals, of prayer, of compassion, and of memory. A heart broken open offers you sanctuary in which you can find God so that you are never alone.

A heart broken open links you forever to the family of humanity.

A heart broken open is an invitation to become real – to stand before the altar of your soul and pledge that you will no longer waste this precious life on unconsciousness.

~ Paula M. Reeves “Heart Sense” ~ Unlocking Your Highest Purpose and Deepest Desires

A great reminder today and everyday.   The idea of being broken open is a good visual that gives me courage.
Please share this with others as you see fit.

 

Peace Angels

Angels walking amongst us… beautifully rendered. This, out of all the videos I viewed in recent memory, touched my soul.

My favorite part of the video is between 3:30 and 3:40.  It reminds me of a friend of mine that smiles at me in the same way and then I feel completely well.

So I guess, I believe that angels are walking amongst us.  There are days when I aspire to be the conduit of such divine peace and love.


I came across this video on facebook, in a blog post from FinerMinds.

Courage That Inspires

Today, on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I find myself reflecting on dreams. We all have dreams. I have them. The powerful dreams are those that are shared and actually propel humanity to Our Highest Purpose.

It’s inspiring to see the number of friends on Facebook that are posting links and videos to commemorate the life of MLK.

Here’s a link to Letter from Birmingham Jail.

When searching for a photo in the public domain of MLK, I came across this one on wikipedia of Rosa Parks with him in the background.

Appropriate I thought because this morning, on Facebook, the first post I saw was a photo of MLK with a photo of Gandhi in the background on the wall behind him.

We are all connected and every courageous action we take that is honoring our humanity can inspire and act as a support and a foundation for others – a kind of Pay it Forward catalyst for inspiration.

 

Peace starts at home

A member of the audience asked: “please tell me there is hope. I mean I watch the news and I can only do that for short periods of time.”
The speaker had shared story after story of forgiveness. The kind of forgiveness that is difficult for most to imagine. And I suppose after having herself witnessed what is possible when people just have a small desire to forgive it’s no surprise that the answer was “Yes. There’s hope.”
After the talk I thanked her. I was so happy to have met someone who’s life work is centered around raising the consciousness of humanity to a level where we get to re-write our story and find our way back to peace. I realized that although I’m not travelling the world doing this work, that the internal work I do and the lives I touch in my immediate surroundings is good enough for now.
So I left the lecture with Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang, Ed.D.’s book finding forgiveness and feeling hopeful.

Do we have the right to kill?

My husband came home last night touched by a story he heard on NPR.  Here’s the link in case you want to read it for yourself.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112892738

In short, it is the story of the struggle to find a vein inside a man scheduled to be executed by lethal injection.

What have we come to?  Who gives us the right to kill in cold blooded pre-meditation? And, if something like this happens where is our sense of wonder about divine intervention? Are we being given the opportunity to ponder our acts and perhaps see where our humanity has gone astray? 

In the comments section of the article, I came across this post.  It holds a pretty powerful mirror to us.  Of course it’s only one side… but it’s one I feel compelled to post here.  

David Gentry-Akin (davidvgentry) wrote:
I have long felt that the death penalty was evil; that it was a sign of the utter bankruptcy of our culture. What does it do the souls of the prison personnel who are asked to participate in such a heinous process? Killing is certainly wrong, but to kill with such cold, calculating premediation cannot but inflict enormous psychic violence on the souls of the people involved. Years ago, the lawyer of a mentally retarded inmate was interviewed on NPR after witnessing the execution of his client. I can still hear him through his tearful sobs, saying that this act ‘diminishes us all’. His words still haunt me. If this is not evil, I do not know what evil is.

David Gentry-Akin
Moraga, California

Thursday, September 17, 2009 2:36:15 AM

I’m haunted by this story. I feel it’s enormous weight on my soul. I want to remain open but can’t find that place where I can support Capital Punishment and still be true to my own self. In what way do I contribute to this reality where there are victims, perpetrators, judges…?