Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I've recently been asking God about peace. More specifically, I curious why since Jesus is the "Prince of Peace" that Christians have so little of it. Just like the rest of the world, we are all consumed by schedules, deadlines, traffic... (need I go on?)
It occurs to me that cultivating peace takes a belief that it is a desirable quality of life. And that it is actually about more than "zen" candles.
There seem to be some commonalities in those few people I know who simply exude peace. Based on those observations, it would seem that to cultivate peace we can begin with the following...
Keep short accounts. We have human emotional accounts. Every broken relationship...hurt...insult...times we were taken advantage of...they drain our emotional accounts. We can ignore our low balances or we can deal with things as they happen. This is often about going to the person who wronged us to settle the debt or (especially if it is in the person's character to do those things) writing it off. Not "forgive and forget" but "forgive and release the debt." Take it off the balance sheet. (Many times in order to keep short accounts we have to stop doing emotional business with those who continually bankrupt us.)
Travel light. We all have baggage. This may be things we've done (regrets), things done to us (abuse), or things we are afraid will happen (fear). It takes a lot of work to actually look at that stuff and deal with it so we can release it. Again, this would seem to be an exercise in forgiveness (for others or for ourselves) or an exercise in courage (not allowing ourselves to carry the worry that our past might define our future) and may take therapy, good counsel, and a lot of prayer to be able to get to the place where we can set that load down.
"Pick up your map. Lay down your gavel." That's a line from a Dirt Poor Robins song. I can think of nothing more illustrative than the juxtaposition of sitting down behind a bench on high and putting on hiking boots to go somewhere. There is much more peace walking a trail than sitting in a courtroom. Judging is heavy work, so why spend mental or verbal conversation on the trying and convicting people outside of ourselves. (Most of the time, it doesn't affect them anyway.)
Make time for silence. Silence is key in making room to deal with the items above. (Otherwise how could we even notice we have long accounts or are carrying baggage while busy running from place to place.) Turning off the television and taking time to simply "be" can prove a powerful practice for cultivating peace.
Set the stage. Soft music, smelling lavender, sounds of a fountain, having plants around and....yes, even "zen" scented candles can cue peace. What our eyes see and our body experiences influences the mind and spirit. While setting the stage won't bring about peace on its own it occurs to me it can play a role in shaping a life characterized by peace.
With all of that said, I wish us all...peace!