I’ve been thinking about prayer circles lately. They come in all flavors and colors. Some are built around discussion and the calling of names of those we hold dear and protect. Others begin and end with meditation, with long periods of discussion in between. Still others are only conducted in silence.
Around the world we’ve witnessed some of the worst of human atrocities. No matter which side of a conflict one may be, the outcome from bombings, suicides and war call for us to long for peace. I know how much we’ve listened to hate speech, watched families split over their political choices, seen hate symbols proudly displayed. And we’ve also witnessed the smallest of human triumphs and goodness.
This weekend, I watched a woman in line in front of me at the mall get very upset because one customer was taking too much time (her words, not mine). She made a comment about the clerk’s ethnicity, as if that was a reason for the slowness. I made a joke about a truly ugly Christmas sweater on a nearby mannequin. By the time she reached the clerk, we’d talked and laughed for five minutes. She was in a good mood, paid her charges quickly, smiled at me and left. Small thing, but I reached out.
One of my girlfriends was in a mall across the country when she saw a woman on the verge of tears. They were looking at cards. After several audible sniffs, my friend reached over and invited the sad woman to have a cup of coffee with her. As strangers know, stories flow without restraint. The sad woman had had to put her dog down the day before. She couldn’t go home without crying. My girlfriend sat with her for over two hours, sharing tales about their pets, crying a bit over lost furry friends. They ended exchanging email addresses with promises to have coffee again when times are better. My girlfriend knows it will happen. They’ve already made a date for between the holidays.
It’s not just women, but men generally don’t tell us they’ve done random acts of kindness. They keep their actions to themselves. Women talk to other women, hoping to find inspiration in the actions of others.
And we have reached a time of peace with the coming of the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, all are centered on peace. We might not agree, but Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are also founded on peace. Isn’t it time to look beyond the color of the skin, the head scarf, the body tattoos to see the real person underneath? We might not always like what we see, but we should look anyway, don’t you think? I like being surprised when I find the jewel.
In the words of a recent philosopher, isn’t it time to “give peace a chance?” Thank you, John Lennon, for those words of wisdom. We aren’t all living by them yet, but these’s still hope that we will. Or, “can we all get along? …Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it.” Thank you, Rodney King.
What about you? What are you doing to give peace a chance? Whether on the global scale or in your heart, you can do something to help us all get along. I’d love to know what you are doing.
I finished decorating my house and am taking a quick nap under the tree with Santa and Mrs. Claus.