Monday, December 28, 2009
Peace, the dictionary says, "absence of war or other hostilities, an agreement or a treaty to end hostilities, freedom from quarrels and disagreements, public security and order, and inner contentment, serenity, free from strife, in a state of tranquility, serene, to sustain law and order" and my personal favorite, 'to be silent!'
The past week has held anything but silence. The background music of Jingle Bell Rock and I Saw Mama Kissing Santa Claus as you shop for milk and eggs in a supermarket intent on selling you much more, the noise of traffic...cars full of people hurrying to do as much possible in as little time as possible, the joyous din of holiday parties, laughter, glasses clinking, fireplaces crackling, and children screaming in anticipation of Santa's arrival.
There was little 'peace on earth' as I sent off 60+ boxes of my Pockets of Peace www.pennysfromheavenfoundation.org books to our deployed soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and thought of their families serving at home. I remembered being an Army wife years ago, alone at home with a baby, while my husband was in Korea. It was a sad and bleak time.
In a holiday state of mind or environment, it is difficult to weather the noise. It becomes contagious as you watch everyone scurrying about to meet the deadline of December 25th. You find yourself suddenly doing the same thing, hurrying to find that perfect gift, or happiness.
But now it is a new week, with a new year approaching. And it is apparent, to me at least, too much noise shifts our attention from what is truly important.
The early morning hours before daybreak are where and when I find peace. It is where I remember who I am. As I write, aware of my breath, I let the cares of the day strip away, I find a peace that will accompany me on another day's journey. It is a time when I find my sanctuary.
For me, if each day does not begin like this, how do I deal with the insanity of it all?
There is a certain sadness in winter, if you choose to look at it that way. Or I say there is a certain peace - a welcome pause - before the world once again breaks into bloom. Winter for me is a place, and a space, I want to hold onto. I find a quieting of my soul and body and great comfort in the simplicity and quiet of this time of year.
Have you ever noticed there are those who choose to never find peace in their lives, always surrounded by tasks, to do lists, chaos, duty, self-imposed busyness? The television is turned on the second they enter their home, a phone or ipod is always attached to their ear. 'Living lives of quiet desperation,' they have a space inside that is empty and can only be superficially filled with busyness and 'stuff'.
It is by turning inward that you find who you are. You might be surprised to find you are not just mother, wife, executive, father, grandparent, doctor, nurse, friend, neighbor, etc. Try it...let me know what you find out.
Our inner selves can be reduced to rubble and we are of no use to anyone if we don't find the peace of knowing who we are. As my friend Terry Hershey (http://www.terryhershey.com/) says, "...finding time to let our souls catch up with our bodies." Sometimes it is a painful and exhausting plunge when we look inside. Sometimes it is complicated, and then sometimes we just might find a joyful spirit that wants to come out and play.
Take a moment each day, savor the fragrance of honey, the soft eyes of child, the look of love in complete stranger's eyes, read poetry (my favorite - Mary Oliver) reflect on those times when you felt at peace, feel the winter chill in your cheeks, touch the cold nose of your dog, smell a flower, awaken all of your senses, look in the mirror and into your soul, find yourself. Then quietly observe Mother Nature sleeping - preparing, preparing.
There are times when our souls sustain damage beyond repair and comprehension, it is in those times that we need to find that place inside where peace lives.
"Everyday brings a choice to practice stress or to practice peace."