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Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

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Part of my prayer practice includes writing something positive, something uplifting, something worthy of thinking about — I am sad that far too many have been a response to horrific prices to be paid by family and loved ones who have been taken from this earth in a violent action by someone who is AGAINST something.

Yet, the common media response is to highlight even more, the violent and disrespectful responses of those AGAINST something.

It is said that “Problems cannot be solved on the level at which they were created.”

I AM FOR EVERYONE DOING THEIR BEST TO RISE TO A NEW LEVEL in their own personal lives. It is my commitment to do so in my own life, in every way in which I know how. I welcome company in doing this.

My friend was returning from an appointment yesterday and saw police cars racing toward the county courthouse. This is her response.

A letter from Katherine Hempel, writer-friend, resident in Berrien County, Michigan

“I love this space for here is a place where I feel the conversations, prayers and contemplation so needed in the world today are actually being had and encouraged and, thanks to our wonderful Abbess and Prior, taught and studied.
My update on the situation with our shootings and resulting tragedy, effecting so many here in SW Michigan, is long.
I thank you in advance for your prayers and love for a world, though in crisis, that is so worthy of our tenderest vigilance.
Update: our neighbor was not one of those killed or injured. Yet little to celebrate as our beautiful and peaceful Berrien County awakes knowing such can happen “even here.”


I come back again to a realization that we live on a world focussing in large part on all it is against…all it doesn’t approve of. It seems warped, away from any normal thought pattern, but I find myself relieved that the pigment of this man’s skin was not darker…and yet that of the deputy he shot was…why does my mind even go there. Recent events, of course, but I can’t help but wonder, would this ‘no history of violence’ shooter have been taken from his cell uncuffed were he black?


His ex-wife has made the statement that he had gotten involved with the wrong crowd. This is not an impressionable teen we are talking about here but a fully grown, closer to middle-aged man. How does one live that long and still be seem as one to be swayed “by the wrong crowd?”


Which brings me back to my pet peeve. For 8 years we have had a Congress working ‘against’ rather than ‘for.’ In the upcoming election few, either running or (hopefully) preparing to vote speak of what they are ‘for’ but rather what/who they will vote against. Ask individuals what they stand for and often the response is a litany of what they ‘hate.’ Is it any wonder weeks like this past one drifting over into this one now have exploded in the news?


It’s hard to imagine much will change until each of us as individuals begin to talk about what we do want, what we appreciate and take a stand…a well-considered stand, the result of quiet contemplation away from FOX and CNN…a stand that reflects our hearts and not just our fears. Only then, it seems to me, do we create a momentum forward. Only then, do we have any right to protest, in any balanced way, those things we are against and hope to come up with any positive solution to the darkness in the world. For it is only light…even the dimmest of lights…that can show us the way out of the darkness of this tunnel vision of negativity.

So…in the spirit of encouragement…what do YOU stand for? Let’s talk about that.”
(end)

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From Napkinwriter:

When I studied with futurist, evolutionary spiritualist Barbara Marx Hubbard, from all her studies tracing back to “the big bang”, she holds that preceding every major evolutionary turn forward in the earth’s existence that “crisis precedes transformation”.   Even the single cell was in crisis. To avoid extinction, it had to divide to become two and do it again and again and again.

Today, it seems more than true that we are in crisis. More and more people of responsibility and office are telling us, we must change.  The old ways are not working and they never have. Communication based on I am right and you are wrong lead only to increased voice volume. Officials experiencing and at the center of the pain of recurring violence are saying……come together.   What does that mean and how does that happen?

The vibration at the center of this, which is evil, is rippling out to us on an increasing level. There is no such thing  anymore as “I didn’t think this could happen here”.  It has happened in Kalamazoo twice in a few short months.  And now another close by shooting incident in Southwestern Michigan, and one narrowly avoided in South Haven over the 4th of July.

As the Dallas Police Chief challenged us, I ask myself  “what can I do to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.”  It can be as simple and unassuming as to be kind to my neighbor…or with a regular practice of listening within in quiet…..it may direct me to bigger things. Forgivenesss of hurts and grievances of the past….care of the water, soil, and all living things,…community with purpose…….faith and action working together for the good of all….building up of self and others.

But whatever they are, they are equal in intent. To be in our world as Gift.

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The world breaks
broken places
shattered mirrors
to reflect what is neglected
in dark corners.

My efforts are needed
i will turn to meet my destiny
reflected in shattered mirrors.

Unmolded clay
in my hand
nourishes new life.

The world breaks
I am a humble artist
molding my earthly clod.

Prayerful hands

i will trust to love.

Several years ago, I was grateful for the opportunity to return to a weekend workshop at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY and be with my artist sisters of WWAM  (Women Writers and Artists Matrix). A loving, powerful, far-seeing community of good living and loving in the world.

In one of the workshops, we played with broken pieces of glass added to a collage we made on a trypearche.  Color, fabric shapes and designs and paint went on the surface.

Then we added the lines of a poem, selected from many she handed out. We cut these lines and added them to our art form in any order we were inspired to. I only wish I had added the name of the author of the original poem to the back.  Yet, the beauty of it is that I “create” a new poem by reading the lines in different order any time I want.

Last, we we glued pieces of glass to our piece and shiny gem shapes and buttons.

I have kept my art piece in my sight. It has luminous energy about it. It speaks daily truth of the state of the world and the challenge before all of us, in any way in which I choose to read the lines.

Try it yourself. Take my poem I wrote today and write your own, choosing to start with “I will trust to love”.   See what happens.

I am trusting us to begin and continue the work and loving and listening to be done.

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Today, as I was posting on my Peace In Our Hearts and Around The World Facebook page, two words in this step jumped out at me as if it were the first time I was seeing them.

“improve our………..conscious contact with God…

STEP ELEVEN. “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out……Prayer and meditation are our principal means of conscious contact with God.” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Having had 36 years and 13,140 “one-day-at-a-time” days (throwing in a few extras for the Leap Years that occurred over this time), it surprises me that something new pops up in the literature and practice of The Twelve Steps after all this time. But it does and it did today.

In truly countless meetings I attended from the late 1970s into the early years of 2000, I learned how it works, as Chapter 5 states which is often read at the beginning of meetings. “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has truly followed this path.” The path this refers to is the path of the 12 Steps for recovering addicts, no matter the substance of choice. Repetitive reading of this chapter did no harm and hearing it aloud among companion recovering brothers and sisters imbedded the Truth of the miracle mission of founder Bill Wilson in our own personal lives.

True…..we stood at the turning point. We knew this well. We were on the path of the 12 Steps, one day at a time, that would free us from a life impossible to live if addiction ruled our lives.

So, today, many years later, and on a continuing and increasing lifestyle of contemplative prayer and practice, the words that surprise me are: IMPROVING OUR……

Many who sat around the tables had trouble with the word GOD, having to substitute the word Higher Power, for it. Or the masculine pronoun of HE for God. I could get by all of those. They were not barriers to the step for me or the practice of it. What I thought this step promised was ACTUAL conscious contact with God.

My end wish is that I do have that ACTUAL contact, but I will settle for sobriety AND improved conscious contact with God. I have that all the time.  And conscious seems to be the operative word here.

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I remember feeling very peaceful in these surroundings on day 9 of my 12 day tour of the Alps with my friend, Martha.

 

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“Peace is the simplicity of spirit, the serenity of conscience, the tranquility of the soul and the bond of love. Peace is order, it is the harmony in each one of us,, it is a continual joy that is born in witnessing a clear conscience, it is the holy joy of a heart wherein God reigns. Peace is the way to perfection, or even better, in peace dwells perfection.” St. Pius of Pietrelcina, an Italian Capuchin. Source: Magnificat, May 2015, Vol 17, No. 3

 

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The year was 2013. The month was July. We arrived via business class luxury air to Munich, Germany and began travel through “the Ultimate Alps”, touching Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Leichenstein, and Italy.  The fortunate touch of long-lasting friendship made this possible for me when Martha asked me to accompany her, all financials taken care of.   I felt the simplicity of spirit in that and the holy bond of love.

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Peace is the way to perfection……we each knew this peace of shared past times as neighbors and the witnessing of friendship shared across the years through each one’s numerous life changes and geographical space.

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We still picked up the old-fashioned phone and said, “Hi, how are you? What’s going on?”

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We still started new conversations where long ones had left off many moons prior.  A continual joy, a holy joy of the heart.

I was struck by the concise wording in the first paragraph of today’s meditation, knowing that peace truly is what is written there on all those levels. And that I recognize it as something I am able to experience, not just long for.

For this, I am grateful.

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Devereaux - Lift up My SoulImage by Angie Devereux (c)

The words below are not mine but I have copied them from the words of a reading I did during a quiet time meditation. They touched me deeply as I try to apply them to a time in our world where Christians are being persecuted, tortured and killed simply for the act of being Christian. It astounds me that as a young child, I tried to imagine the courage of the martyrs in the early Christian era, being sought after, persecuted and killed.

So many revolutions of the planet later with the passage of more than 2,000 years and the same exists today for millions of people, seeking some safe haven from their own homelands from those who would kill them for being Christian. My heart can hardly hold this.

So I ask myself too, “How is it that we are not living from the center of love?”

From a reflection in the April 2015 Magnificat
“….I believe that we all came from love. That the Love that is All begat us as individualized human love. That we are made in Love’s image and likeness. So I wonder as I look back across the eons of time and into our present times across our planet, “how did we get this so wrong”. How is it that we are not living from a center of love? How is it that it takes great effort and awareness to BE love in our world, in our lives, in our relationships to our loved ones, friends, and strangers?

I believe the most radical religion on earth today is Christianity. It tells us we must love. Its founder, the Christ Jesus lived a life that showed us just how radical this life of Christianity is and designated others to continue the message and the life of a Christian.

Love our enemies? Turn the other cheek? Be not afraid?”
“For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” John 18:37

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid”. John 14:27

Witness of Peace – Pope Benedict XVI

“In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy, and successful human life…Man is made for peace which is God’s gift…In effect, peace presupposes a humanism open to transcendence. It is the fruit of the reciprocal gift of mutual enrichment which has its source in God and enables us to live with others and for others…Peace is the building up of a co-existence in rational and moral terms, based on a foundation whose measure is not created by man, but by God.”

Note from Napkinwriter:

So still, in my life, I am seeking to be this radical person of love in my personal life, believing that somehow, along with my prayers, that my tiny contribution will somehow send a tiny ripple out to touch the larger world…..that I can plant a seed…..that this seed will not fall upon rock….that it will bear the fruit of love from an enriched soil and a plant that regularly bears “pruning back” and speaking and acting only from a radical love that serves its highest purpose.

Lofty? Perhaps. Attainable? On some days. Worthy goal? Absolutely. Covered with grace by the Benedictine precept of……Each Day, We Begin Again.

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It is time for another short communication with Christine Whitelaw, as I am missing her. This is a blog to which she responded three years ago. It shows just one of the “common things” we shared, wrote about, took photographs of, or values we shared.

Where is the balance? I hope Rita Marie Johnson’s work and influence is taking a deeper root in our society than we hear via the news on our states of conflict seemingly everywhere.

For myself, I continue to watch for sparks of violence in my daily actions, intents, words or thoughts and weed them out. That is my own grass-root level effort, and it feels like it is growing increasingly peaceful. May it be so, one day in the world.

“Here we are, God — a planet at prayer. Attune our spirits that we may hear your harmonies and bow before your creative power that we may face our violent discords and join with your Energy to make heard in every heart your hymn of peace.” Joan Metzner, Earth Prayers From Around The World

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I am reading Non-Violent Communication right now, part of my course work for Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy, it is wonderful, so clear and practical, but take it bit by bit! What an inspiring story, thank you.

 

Conflict or Peace – Can we choose Peace?
March 19, 2011 by napkinwriter
Costa Rican children taught Be Peace in Daily Lives
Apparently, we can choose peace over conflict. One woman, over the past seventeen years, Rita Marie Johnson has taken this simple, but not easy to practice belief, created a high vision for it to occur, wrapped ambitious goals around the vision, and has produced a system that is taught in the Costa Rican school system. It is now being instituted in the United States. Her vision is buoyed up by foundation training courses for teachers to get it off the ground and into the children’s daily lives.

She is starting with the children — but she has her sights set on presidents and leaders of nations — to “vacation” at her Costa Rica training grounds and learn the fundamentals of her program, BePeace.

BePeace was developed by Rita Marie Johnson, in 2002, after moving to Costa Rica from Texas, where she strengthened its peace model. She was surprised to learn that Costa Rica did not have an army. She was also inspired by a poem that tells of a teacher, Rasur, who comes to a village and awakens the children to the wisdom and compassion in their hearts.

In 2000, Johnson wrote a story about The Return of Rasur, a story that holds the answer to education in our time. She went on to write and produce a musical entitled Rasur that got noticed by the President of Costa Rica.

A key element that gives life to its vision is they believe that to become more peaceful nations we must begin within ourselves and that teaching our children is the logical first step to shifting generational violence into lasting peace.
Here in our United States education system, we deal daily with the bullying problems that cause deaths of young students and much silent suffering from those who “just take it.”

BePeace, a program within the Rasur Foundation International, focuses on three things: feeling peace; speaking peace; and then teaching peace.

Their vision is a world where every child practices peace and passes this gift to the next generation. Their mission is attracting, training and supporting natural peace teachers to evoke the wisdom and compassion in children through the practice of BePeace. Their motto is: “Before directing the lightning in the sky, we must first harness the storms in our own hearts.”

The key word here is practice. Is this some lofty goal, where you keep a simple smile on your face all day and turn away from conflict in your path? No, it is a program of training in life skills, psychology, the worth of each person, and the willingness to learn and apply behavior patterns that are scientifically proven to establish calmness within a person which then gives the person some options of learned behaviors to apply to the stressful situation at hand.

Eliminating the “knee-jerk” defensive behaviors, deeply engrained in most of us, probably gets us half-way down the path anyway. But my own life experience in changing, modifying, bettering my own behavior has taught me that to change means to practice — over and over again.

The Rasur Foundation International and BePeace program makes sure their students get the chance to practice. They have set up a foundations course for individual study, teachers and group coordinators, where the heart of the program is explained, demonstrated, conversed about, and taken into individual practice. The students, in turn, will: be peace, speak peace and then naturally teach peace.
BePeace synergistically combines the intelligence of the heart and compassionate communication for a peaceful, compassionate speaking into a daily practice for creative, peaceful living. This practice evolved from the work of the Institute of Heart Math and the work of Marshall B. Rosenberg at the Center for Nonviolent Communication.

Rita Marie Johnson, realized the powerful synergy between these two methods and developed th practice of BePeace to combine coherence through appreciation and connection to universal needs through empathy and honesty.

This is real work! Based on scientific testing and results, the work done to “feel peace” develops a physiological change within the body, called “coherence”. More than just a slowed down heart-rate, it evens out the beating of the heart and produces communication between the heart and the brain.
For those who like the scientific talk, this is the book to check out.
During the foundation course, participants will become skilled in how to “feel peace” and enhance intelligence through the practice of physiological coherence betwen the heart and the brain.

The second part then comes where they learn the steps of compassionate communication, that is “speaking peace.” Here is where, with the best of intentions, I fall down so often. I need more practice in whatever it is they learn to do here. Good intentions, for me, just don’t get the job done. The foundation teaching course says that “speaking peace” is connecting more consciously with our own feelings and needs, and of those around us.

Is that a win-win? A phrase so highly touted but so often fallen short of? I’d say so. In negotiations, someone gives up “something”. And they feel that. If speaking peace is what they say it is, then there is a respect and recognition of all needs on the table and somehow a peaceful outcome for all is a result.
The high prize! One I’d like to try for.

This is the other resourse the practice of BePeace is founded upon.

I am all for learning any method and truth that helps me MODEL, and as their organization says, be peace. That has been my life quest and I am having success…as long as I don’t push it or crowd myself. I like the Heart Math side of it and I have life experiences that cause me to know that what they report in this book is true in my own case. I’ve studied and learned many methods to the ends of eliminating violent or hurtful communication on my part — again, some success.

Somehow, the alarming feeling is that it doesn’t come naturally. A look around the world and our neighborhoods would seem to support that. I have to take the time and initiative to learn…and maybe in learning, I’ll actually see that it is remembering what I have forgotten that is most important. As an individual and as part of a mass society, in the forgetting, I became focused on the ego and protection of “little me”.

Maybe, I can hope, that it is more realistically a matter of REMEMBERING who I really am and being peace, speaking peace and teaching peace will radiate from my center.

To find out more, here is the link:
http://www.rasurinternational.org/index.php/bepeace/about-bepeace
founder, Rita Marie Johnson

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Souljourner banner statement

My granddaughter, Amy, completed her Montessori pre-school education his month. In September, she begins kindergarten in the Richland Public School System.

She is greatly enriched and informed from all her Montessori experiences, and one thing in particular is she loves, loves, loves singing the Montessori Peace song with her classmates in public performances.

She even instructs grandma in the proper wording of the song if grama “slips up” on a word or two.

Ahh, changing the world….even being the change we want to see in the world.  This seems like such a monumental thing to many of us.

But truly, it is not.  Take this song which is a formation of consciousness and living for the children who attend Montessori.  Take all the debate about what can be and what cannot be allowed in public school education.

Take this simple but powerful song. No doctrine or mention of God by any name within it. What would be a reason for keeping it out of any education at the primary level?

There is a place to begin….right in your own place and then spread out over all the world.

Is this too easy?

Montessori Peace Song

Light a candle for peace,
Light a candle for love,
Light a candle that shines,
All the way around the world.

Light a candle for me,
Light a candle for you,
That our wish for world peace,
Will one day come true

Sing Peace Around the World
Sing Peace Around the World
Sing Peace Around the World
Sing Peace Around the World

Visit this inspiring website for precious insight.

http://singpeacearoundtheworld.blogspot.com/

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