Another week closer to winter, and another week closer to Christmas. This second week of advent is so much busier than the first: presents to buy and wrap, cards to mail, groceries to get and long lines to stand in… Energy levels drop and anxiety levels rise. We are cranky with each other. Yesterday was a tough day around here, and the strain was beginning to show. One of my favourite people sent me this quote today:
“Nobody can live for any length of time within a family or a community without hurting others and without getting hurt. The challenge is to have the resiliency to live with that. (St. Therese of Lisieux)
It seems fitting that the virtue for this week should be peace.
I have written about peace before – recently at Remembrance Day, and some time ago as part of a complicated evolution of childhood memory into adult understanding- but mostly I am no closer to unlocking the secrets of peace…
There is so much fear/anger/hatred/sadness in the world. How do we make sense of being peaceful people in the face of real unrest? How do we manage to become not just peace keepers, but peace makers?
Above my desk I keep Max Ehrman’s “Desiderata” – I have quoted from it here before, and have many childhood memories of my mother quoting it to me – and in the very beginning there is this line:
“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”
Is that the answer? Do we need to find a moment of silence to feel the peace that is waiting for us? How can we afford a moment of silence when there is so much to be done?
For the first time this year my children and I have started a new tradition of decorating the bare branches of our beloved maple trees. It has been quite funny because our late fall weather has brought us some blustery gusty winds and each morning we find the ornaments blown around on the front lawn. This week it has been our habit to spend five minutes before we leave for the day gathering up the ornaments and reattaching them to the branches. It’s not quite silent but it’s quiet enough that we can hear the birds chirping in the trees as they go about their own morning chores. This morning, in that moment of almost-silence I had a tiny little epiphany…
Before I can make peace in the world with anyone else I need to find my own peaceful place…I need to make peace with myself.
Such a tiny little moment in a kinetic whirlwind of a week, and the act of standing in my own soggy front yard, surrounded by wind storm debris and listening to the birds and my children playing, I felt just a little bit more at peace with myself and just a little bit more alive. For today, that is just what I needed.
“The important thing is to somehow begin.” (Henry Moore)