A few years ago, during the time that I refer to as the lost years of the U.S. presidency when chaos ruled over character, a dear friend texted me, “you are allowing him to steal your peace” after one of my online rants. I knew the peace she was speaking of, “the peace that surpasses all understanding” from Philippians 4:7.
“Freedom is dearer than bread or joy.” Jessie Sampter, Poet
“Peace is not possible without freedom from which all that prevents it.” s.l. prielipp-falzone, Writer/Poet
Peace, finding the harmony
It is easy to underestimate the power of peace within our mind, body, and spirit. It is not the peace that ignores others or even oneself by shutting down or ignoring what steals our peace. The true form of peace comes from wakefulness (and I am not referring to the trending “woke” terminology).
If there is one thing that I have learned over the past year or so is that when I am at peace I am engaged with life while also feeling relaxed, calm, and safe even despite having leukemia in the middle of a global coronavirus pandemic. Do I dare say that cancer produced gratitude for seeing peace for what it is? … a protection from stress that causes my immune system to grow stronger in body and empowers my spirit?
“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live in peace with others.” Peace Pilgrim, Mildred Norman, American teacher
Our culture puts demands on us with invasive demands for our attention, a juggling of busyness and responsibilities that sucks out the life-giving marrow from our mind and spirit. The sadness of this predicament is that we allow it.
Every morning (and nighttime) with rare fail and without interruption, I am in my space practicing stillness. No electronic devices. No earbuds. No sound. Nothing but stillness in my favorite chair in the privacy of my bedroom – other times it may be in nature, the backyard, the beach at Lake Michigan behind my house, in the state park near the river or on a trail far from the noise of the world.
I pray. I mediate. I journal. Every. Single. Day.
You may not believe as I do in God, but you have the universe, that sense of transcendental, something eternal, a spirit by another name, something beyond words that is meaningful where peace surpasses all understanding.
This is the durable peace that I come home to even when I am consumed by fear, frustration, or heartache from the world. A durable peace which prevents my overreactions and allows me to treat others and find support by them in ways that bring harmony into the world.
I know it is not realistic for others to follow my stillness routine. My 24 hours is different than the next person who has different responsibilities than me. Yet whether it is 10 minutes, 30, 60 or longer, each of us can find our safe space. Look for it. I know you will find it. And when you do, be grateful not for what you do not have – quantity and quality of space or material stuff – peace will change the perspective. If you are having difficulty summoning up gratitude, help others. I guarantee you someone has less than you.
Guard whatever space and time you have.
While the contents of this world are everchanging, the sun still shines, the stars still twinkle, the waves of the lake and river still flow. Just like the world in all its vastness, I am but a drop or speck that moves and changes in that lake or sky of human culture. I can only control that which is in my power.
I continue to reclaim what I have given over. For example, I turn off all notifications from 5 pm to 7 am from the limited media I still have activated including email. I do not answer the phone after 8 pm and not before 7 am or 10 am on weekends. The telephone and text are only available for my husband and sons on off hours who have specific notification sounds, otherwise, I do not look at my phone or iPad after 9 pm. I find other ways to connect with others such as through my writing. You have an artistic endeavor that may connect others to you. Explore it!
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa, Saint
“Peace is its own reward.” Mahatma Gandhi, Political Ethicist
Ours is a continuous journey that begins in our wakefulness observing the stillness we create in our individual space in pursuit of a durable peace that brings harmony to mind, body, and spirit. I hope you start your own journey today. It will help you to release yourself from the toxicity of people and elements of the world. In the words of my friend, “do not allow anyone to steal your peace.”
Last week Dictionary.com announced its word of the year for 2021: Allyship
A wonderful source to explore allyship is a project created by @amelielamont www.guidetoallyship.com. If you find this guide useful, buy her a cup of coffee like I did.
“Everyone has the right to peaceful coexistence, the basic personal freedoms, the alleviation of suffering, and the opportunity to lead a productive life.” Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. President, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize
This post is dedicated to my friend, Anne-Marie.
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