I have followed photographer/speaker/author Karen Walrond at www.chookooloonks.com for several years and I love her photography and the tone of her writing. She is very soothing. She also provides links to her favorite songs on her playlist, which has introduced me to some fun new (to me) musicians. In December, she is offering a guided journal type writing course called Advent of Light and since I was looking for a way to focus some time on writing, I signed up. I’m already behind, because life is busy, but thought I’d take a few minutes to pound out a few words from Day 4’s prompt: Peace
I have never really thought deeply about peace. I have always understood it in one sense to mean that there is no war. I have also understood it to mean feeling calm, assured that things will work out eventually, even if everything around you is in chaos. On Karen’s blog, I read a story about a king who goes in search of the definition of peace and is told by a wise man that it is in a grain of wheat. The king takes the grain and puts it in a box and guards it carefully, thinking over how this grain could possibly be the definition of peace. He can’t figure it out, so he goes back to the wise man and asks. He is told that though he was careful to protect and guard the grain, he was depriving it of the soil, the water, and the light it would need to grow to its full potential. The wise man explained that peace is not just something to hold within ourselves, it needs to be allowed to grow and to be shared with others.
I’d never really thought of peace that way—to me, it had always meant no war or feeling calm and reassured that things would work out eventually, even if everything around you is in chaos. So, the story above got me thinking—how can I share peace with others?
I am an intense and passionate person. I have big opinions and big feelings and I am not afraid to share them—but this also sometimes makes me a bit intimidating and obnoxious. My intent is never to hurt or shame or anger anyone—but I have inadvertently done so on more than one occasion, simply because I allowed my intensity to overpower my consideration of others. I have noticed this tendency particularly since the last presidential election cycle. I have always considered myself a “bridge builder.” I LOVE working to bridge gaps in understanding, culture, and education, but I think I’ve burned a few of those bridges over the last little while and it has taken me some time to figure out how to start rebuilding.
Karen mentioned in her blog that she had a chance to talk with Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and he said that peace is more than the absence of war, it is living in harmony with others. I like that definition of peace. I am sharpening my bridge building tools, which are: listening to understand, preserving a person’s dignity, and bringing levity to tense situations when appropriate.