For today, tomorrow and every day…peace within us, peace among us.
September. The start of a new season and school year. A whole new year for some cultures and creeds. With a World Day of Prayer and a World Day of Peace. A day with memories of horror too. Instead of dwelling on past pains and present fears, we can each be a source of hope and healing.
Please join in “One Minute For Peace.”
Set an alarm for 1:11 pm each day.
When it rings, pause, center yourself, and focus on peace for one minute. Envision peace. Pray for peace in your own way.
Meditate or send waves of love throughout the world.
Forgive someone for something.
Be guided by the love, compassion, and wisdom in your heart.
Let’s engage the children too.
I have my 4-year-old twin grandchildren join me whenever we are together at 1:11.
We started about two weeks ago.
Usually we sit in silence for about 30 seconds and then ask for blessings for all the children of the world, the grown ups too, then all the animals, the plants, the lands, and the seas, with an amen at 1:12.
It’s simple. Easy to do. And potentially powerful too.
Help build a culture of peace.
A week ago, Suffield High School Principal Donna Hayward in Suffield, Connecticut delivered a commencement address that was inspired by The Twelve Gifts of Birth. I’m sharing it here because I believe Ms. Hayward’s message of hope and courage is for all of us. Thank you, Donna, for permission to post your speech along with your photo. I hope to meet you someday, new friend! And thank you, dear reader. As always, I would love to hear your comments.
Class of 2014, you are just minutes from receiving your high school diploma. Your parents are wondering how you got here so fast, as it seems such a short time ago that you were born. Just a few years ago, you took your first steps, spoke your first words, got on the school bus kindergarten bound, learned to ride a bike. This is a natural time for your parents to reflect on the last 18 or so years and for us, your teachers, to reflect on whatever role we have played in your upbringing. As it turns out, teaching and parenting are closely related.
When my daughter was born, we received the usual tidal wave of gifts – blankets, cute little outfits, and baby gear of all kinds. One gift, in particular, though stood out as it arrived without a note or tag from the sender to indicate who had given it. One day, it simply arrived in my mailbox – its message clear – but to this day I don’t know who sent it. It was a book entitled, The Twelve Gifts of Birth, by Charlene Costanzo and it details the gifts or qualities bestowed upon each of you upon your birth as a human. “Royal dignity was yours from the day you were born,” the book begins – and on that day and on a day such as this all parents and teachers hope their children know these gifts. My role today is to remind you that you do all have them and to implore you to use them consciously and with purpose from this day forward.
The first gift is Hope and each of you were born with it. Continue reading
~ Psalm 51:10
I love this psalm.
Long ago I had a vinyl record of a song inspired by this passage. I can still play it in my mind.
As winter ends and spring draws near, let’s make way for heart cleanings and clearings.
Intend to release judgments, regrets, and resentments. Consider using, today and every day, a song, a prayer, a ritual, an affirmation, some activity that helps you open to the grace of letting go, with love and compassion.
When I catch myself starting to judge, and I wish, instead, to simply accept all the differences among us, I recall a family trip to Italy.
Upon arriving in Multepulciano, we visited the Duomo.
“Aw, cute doggie,” gushed Stephanie, pausing on the steps outside the door.
“Look! A della Robbia!” squealed Many Lou upon entering and glancing to the left.
Frank was drawn straight to the tomb.
The worn wooden kneeler in front of the confessional most interested me. While each member of our family explored according to his or her own interests, with my own knees pressed into the grooves formed over centuries, I thought of the hurts carried in the hearts of thousands of people who had knelt there before me.
Krista stood, took all that in, and, with delight, shared what she saw: Stephanie loving animals, Mary Lou loving art, Frank loving history, me loving stories.
The fact is: we all see the world differently.
Instead of trying to convince others to see things our way or judge others for having different points of view and interests, we can appreciate the rich diversity among us and follow the callings of our own hearts.
All with reverence.
It can be so delicious, layered in Eggplant Parmesan, Moussaka, and Ratatouille and all by itself, grilled, baked, or fried.
Or, it can be bitter.
But, that bitterness can be removed, quite easily, too. While there are variations on how that’s best done, the key seems to be salt. Salt draws the bitterness out. Some say to slice, salt, and press the eggplant. Others recommend soaking it in a salty brine.
We can experience ourselves, our lives, as delicious.
And we can know bitterness.
Bitterness increases in eggplants as they age and get stale. Perhaps, in a way, that is what sometimes happens to us.
We had an uncle in our family who grew more and more bitter as he aged. One day, when my husband and I visited that uncle, although he was eighty years old, he seemed younger than the last time we had seen him. Something had changed. He looked happy and healthy, too. When we commented about how good he looked, he said, “I got rid of the bitterness.”
“How did you do that?” I asked. Continue reading
Think of the dreams and courageous actions taken by Martin Luther King, Jr. Consider how he stepped forward with faith, toward advancing human dignity, toward building peace, toward cultivating reverence among us, believing in things unseen.
Let an image of a staircase be a touchstone for you.
Make it a grand one, for your highest dreams…
for the world and your part in it.
May we each further peace.
May our steps be blessed.