Monday, March 15, 2021

Becoming Instruments of Peace


My brain has always been like a pinball machine—ideas bouncing from one pole of interest to another with irradiating lights announcing delight, joy, curiosity, knowledge, fact, possibility, gift, rosiness, success . . .  OR . . . worry, fear, concern, trepidation, desperation, disaster, mistake, failure, flaw—the 180° differences embedded in my psyche, personality, and philosophy! 

That pinball machine of a brain has led me to embrace many changes in life and to find peace and serenity as I’ve surrendered my need to always be in control or to be right or to be the ultimate judge and arbiter not only of my own choices and life, but also of the choices of others.

Pinballing has led, I believe, to my accepting differences while looking for ways to act in a way that will bring to others and to myself a quality of mercy that surpasses all understanding. Mine included. 

Of course, none of us can journey through life without the occasional failure to embrace a recognized universal good. We make mistakes; we fail in our commitments. We talk the talk, but don’t always walk the walk. 

That is to say, we are humans with human flaws and failings. But we can always recommit ourselves to serving human kind in the least obtrusive and destructive way. We can hold on to an empathy grounded in the truth that undergirds every major spiritual tradition: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

That is, in accepting ourselves with all our foibles and flaws, our darkness and our light, we pledge, we vow, we commit to accepting others. We may not accept their actions. In fact, we may find their actions reprehensible. Just as our actions may be reprehensible at times. But we accept that at the deep center of themselves, they are driven by some emotion that makes what they do seem right to them. 

We may not understand that emotion—what it is: fear, greed, pride, lust for power, antipathy, jealousy, envy, whatever. But we can try to begin to understand our own feelings . . . and those of others. We can try to search out and understand the experiences that prompt the actions of others.

Then we can try to create through our thoughts and actions a world that responds to the experiences that led to seemingly destructive actions—whether in ourselves or others.

Is there some perfect world of emotion? Some perfect world where are can live without fear? Some perfect world where power is seen as a source of doing good for all humans? 

I don’t know. I’m at the end of this posting, and I admit to not being smart enough to know how we can fill up the cup of others with life-giving waters as they . . . and possibly, we . . . wander through the desert of our own needs. 

If I were more philosophical or more well read or a deeper thinker or a more abstract thinker . . . if I were wiser . . . if, if, if. Then, perhaps, I could find the words that would be like a rain shower, washing all of us clean of our own arrogance, presumptiveness, pride, self-righteousness, or whatever it is that holds us back from being wholly human. From being holy humans, whose lives bless those of others.




So, I ask you, what is it that we can do to help all of us become, as Francis of Assisi said, “an instrument of peace.” That is, what actions will help us become the life-giving humans we are called to be. Called perhaps by the God in whom many believe. Or, called by our own inners selves that have known the thirst for wholeness. 

What is your response to the needs of our world today and to the great divide between so many of us? To the chasm that exists today in our culture? 

 

·      Francis of Assisi wrote a well-known prayer on how we can be instruments of peace. Click here if you’d like to read his words.

·      The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization I wholeheartedly support with monetary contributions when I can, succinctly says: “Fight hate; teach tolerance; seek justice.”

 

I wish you peace, pressed down and overflowing today and all days. 

 

PS: For those of you who would like to learn more about what’s happening with Elisa as she lives with cancer, here’s her blog URL. On it you will find her postings since 2011. The cancer postings go back to November 1, 2020.

 

Illustrations from Wikipedia.

 

26 comments:

  1. Uh, those Seven Deadly Sins you dropped into your wonderful essay. They do drive a lot of people to be at odds with others who hold the Virtues dear and near. I don't know what the world needs right now anymore than any other mortal but the SPLC's motto seems like a great place to start: “Fight hate; teach tolerance; seek justice.”

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    1. Dear Jean, with a few words, the SPLC gave us a mission I think. A life's work. Peace.

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    1. Dear Joanne, I'm so inept at the technology of comments that I deleted your story. So sorry. But I do remember that you said something like the following: 'Dee, I have found I cannot go looking for people to help, for I make too many mistakes about what I think people want or need. I can offer, and then go away until a decision is made. And when I offer, I follow through.' I didn't mean to imply in my posting that I go looking for people to help, I'm not sure really what I did mean by all those words, they just came willy-nilly. For much of my life, however, I did feel that I had to somehow solve every problem that was shared with me. Ultimately I learned that my role was simply to listen and then to respond in the way that seemed good--both for the person sharing with me and for me.And then to stand by or aside as the person came to her/his choice. I'm no longer a "savior" looking for those to save, I'm merely another wayfarer who hopes to help others with their burdens.....IF they seek help. And then it's whatever help I can offer at the time after they express their need as they see it. Peace.

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  3. I am a work in progress. Always. And yes, I make mistakes and lots of them. I try and act kindly. I try and listen. And I try and keep my judgements (the negative ones) to myself.

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    1. Dear Sue, I think we are much alike. Both works in progress. Both trying to act with kindness and empathy. And both choosing, when possible, to compliment rather than denigrate. We're in this together! Peace.

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  4. Wonderful post Dee.
    Oh if we could only be a small part like Francis of Assisi. Thank you for the link.
    The problems are more than one person can even attempt but totally agree with "Fight hate; teach tolerance; seek justice.
    With those guidelines we can't go wrong.

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  5. Dear Patti, from reading your postings all these years, I've come to appreciate and admire and respect your kind heart and your open mind and your ability to bring laughter into our sometimes weary world. You truly are, I believe, an instrument of peace. And I wish you more of it!

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  6. I keep trying to remember that there are so many wonderful people in the world, along with those unfortunate ones who only know hatred. Since there are so many ways to react to the world today, I try to be kind. It not only makes me feel better, but it also spreads out into the world as love. Martin Luther King said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Thinking of that always brings me peace.

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    1. Dear DJan, thank you for sharing those words from MLK, I'd forgotten them. John Lewis repeated them. And a theologian whose books I read many years ago--Pierre T. Chardin--said pretty much the same, only in different terms, especially in his book "The Divine Milieu." Like you, I try to hold on to kindness and to look always for the good in any situation, just as Mom taught me. Take care. Peace, Dee

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  7. I am so glad I read this, I can't think of a single thing to say.

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    1. Dear Jo-Anne, I'm glad that the words spoke to you. They just came to me and I let them, not really sure what I meant the posting to become. I meant to write on "morning pages," but somehow I took another path! Peace.

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  8. Since the beginning of accounts of humans it would appear that absolute peace is only a goal for some while others feel a need to be in contrast. It is so because we are creatures with a body chemistry that is unique and in some cases it seems to override what one person feels is fair and kind and useful for the larger community. Centuries ago it was so. We are unable to educate unique creative minds all to come together. Perhaps our world is like a pinball machine?
    So good must come with not so good.Happy Spring to you.

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    1. Dear Heidrun, you have really offered me the thought that puts my posting in perspective. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. And yes, perhaps a pinball machine is truly apt to describe our world! Peace and please take care of yourself. I hope ypu and your husband and Buddy have all gotten your vaccine shots.

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  9. Your post and thoughts today are wise. I too go from joyful to worried and back again, a whirl of emotions over the course of a week. I want to shine and be a source of light in our dark world, and I do take actions to move the world in that direction. This week I gave a Zoom presentation to stressed out ladies about prayer and how it can bring us peace.

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    1. Dear Terra, your zoom presentation surely must have brought about the Oneness that connects/unites us all in peace. As a monk once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” We take that step alone or together and we do it for all of us. Peace.

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  10. Know thy self is the best starting point. The pity parties are not allowed. I also support SP LCD and its cause for nine racism financially. Racism and terrorism have no place in a democracy. Support Emily's list. With women men have ruled the roost since caveman days. If women take charge for the next thousand years there will be peace for all instead of wars and better schools hospitals roads for all

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    1. Dear Ray, I may not live to see the day when, as a democratic culture, we meet not men or women or white or black or gay or straight but simply another human being journeying toward wholeness. Peace.

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  11. Lots to think about. Life gives us opportunities to demonstrate what we say we believe by our actions — so it is to combat hate, advocate for equality and acceptance of all, sometimes risking the rejection of others by our stance. Perhaps this is the best way we can contribute to making a difference.

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    1. Dear Joared, yes, we do sometimes risk the rejection of others as we follow our own hearts into the Holy Oneness of All Creation. Thank you for your wise words. Peace.

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  12. i think once we realize that as human how tiny we are and how short our stay is here we would feel less concerned with issues that interest us as individual only .we will have to learn contemplate on most obvious message of Nature that we all are part of one divine being and our survival depends on only combine effort for safety of whole body of living being on planet earth .
    we are so misled by our selfishness still i believe that someday in future such day will come when we will be able think in healthier way and act with harmony for betterment of all of us
    thank you for powerful sharing dear Dee !

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    1. Dear Baili, like you, I so believe that as time passes we human beings will embrace the wisdom of Oneness and see ourselves not as individuals but as part of a whole. Part of Holiness. You truly have a way of coming to the essence of everything. That is a great gift and I'm so grateful that you share it with all of us. Peace.

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  13. A Powerful Message. Being Instruments of Peace, if we could manage that as a Collective, would be Utopia of coarse, but Individually we can do our part and move towards Oneness. It grieves me how Polarized things have become, even with some people I've known a very long time, it's as if I didn't really 'know' them at all until they became someone I didn't recognize anymore... and perhaps, didn't really want to when it became so toxic I had to disengage. Humans are such Social Creatures and getting along and playing well with other Humans should be a cornerstone for success of our Species. At times we are our own worst enemies. Also expecting tolerance and Mercies for our own flaws while often being intolerant of the flaws of someone else. Stay Safe, Be Well.

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  14. Dear Bohemian, thank you for stopping by. Your thoughts so reflect my own. As the King of Siam supposedly said to Anne, "It's a puzzlement!" At least that's how the present time seems to me. I'm trying to reflect on the past years as I've known them and also to read reliable books to discover how we got to what seems like an impasse. Take you. Peace.

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  15. Dear Dee,
    as always, I've enjoyed your wise words. I try to do my part in the world by just being a good person. But lately I've been thinking a lot about - what more could I do? Currently I'm researching and thinking about donating bone marrow. And I continue to smile and be positive every day. It's not much, but maybe my positivity and kindness helps the world even a little bit.
    (And your nice posts and comments have always brightened my day and brought peace) Thank you :)

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