Peace begins at home, they say. This holiday season, all “Peace to the World” and goodwill (and consumerism, family issues, and general neurosis), invites a deeper look at just what that means. Looking at the news we see no such message. Not only does peace not begin at home, peace doesn’t seem to begin anywhere. And we can so easily fall into a sense of hopelessness and despair about the world. Even dedicated activists lose heart at times. Some of us are out in the world fighting (?) for peace; some are at home meditating, or devoting our lives to service. Most of us are just figuring out, day by day, like most of the world, how to feed the kids, pay the bills and be decent human beings.
Peace, is a personal matter. It is a way of being. Actions follow from that internal state, but it is not for us to judge what those actions should be, in others, only in ourselves. Each of us will know, clearly and deeply when we experience peace and live with peace as a guiding principle. None of us will do this perfectly or consistently, for we are all too human. Thus, right beside our practice of peace, is all of our old wounding, our limiting messages, our cumbersome old ego, trying so hard to keep us safe, and our troublesome little sense of righteousness—a true obstacle to peace.
In this very moment, as you are reading, do a quick inner check. Practice deep breathing, quieting mind, stilling feelings and settling body. One, two, three breaths: a quick visit inside. Notice the peace within, wherever you find it. Look out a window and see it in nature. Think of your place in the universe, and notice it there. Remember an act of kindness that you did, or one that was done for you, and feel peace there.
Where do you carry your peace? And do you notice the call to nurture that bud of peace, like the precious flower that it is? I hope you do. And when you decide to care for that growing quality of peace, and its close allies, love, compassion, wisdom and kindness, then you become the gardener of your own soul.
And you will know how to garden and you will know what your garden can become and you will plant peace and nurture it and it will grow. And, if each of does that, even a bit more today than yesterday, perhaps our world will change. And, without any doubt, each of us will change. And that is good.
May peace and peace and peace abide.