If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
From “The Book of Tao (The Way), Lao-Tse (c 5th Century BCE, China, Zhou Dynasty)
And, as the song goes: “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me …” Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller (1955)
Peace, Let It Begin With Me
Rev. Ben Meyer
Unitarian Universalist Minister, San Mateo, California
As we contemplate the theme of Peace during the month of December, we may wonder if the wars will ever end or if violence will ever cease. I know there may be some stern souls out there who question whether our reflections on the need for inner peace will undermine the urgent need to summon all our strength to confront and overcome the machinery of war, the waves of fear, or the agencies of violence. While we think about the need for inner peace, innocents are dying in Syria and Palestine and down the road, around the corner, and God only knows where else.
Why aren’t we out in the streets by the millions? What are we waiting for?
Listen to these words the Angel Gabriel is said to have whispered into Mary’s ear:
There is strength here like the sinew of a mother’s arm.
It shatters the brittle pride of wealth;
It levels the clayfoot thrones of tyrants.
It upholds the forgotten, the scarred.
Hunger both of body and soul will be filled.
Riches will no more be rewarded.
The holy one cleaves to those who keep faith;
It will endure in those who serve mercy.
And then the Promise made to legend ancestors will be kept;
And Peace shall prevail.
I understand and often share the “urge of urgency” over the peacefulness of peace. But this I also know: We live at the intersection of action and reflection.
Self-reflection is no luxury which has to wait until more urgent matters are attended to. It is as essential to our lives as food and drink.
When we don’t take time to know and befriend the darkness within us and in the world we all too soon are overcome by our own inner demons.
Then all our efforts in the name of peace, encumbered by our rage and fear, will only serve to magnify the violence we so wish to quell. What was “the Promise made to legend ancestors”? Surely not peace everlasting—even though we should yearn for and work for and practice peace with every fiber of our being.
The Promise and The Way both lie in the possibility that you and I might come to know the holiness of peace concealed in the darkness of our hearts, our homes, our neighborhoods and THEN beyond—not in some distant land but here at home, not in some long ago time but here, today, right now.
You are the promise. You are the one. You are the way.
Be the peace you seek by seeking the peace in you.
© 2015, words and photograph, Rev. Ben Meyer, All rights reserved; shared here with the permission of the author.
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