“It is in each of us that the peace of the world is cast…in the frontiers of our hearts…from there it must spread out to the limits of the Universe.”
Cardinal Suenens, 1960
These words hung in my kitchen all of my life. My understanding of them changed as my mind and heart grew. This morning, thinking on these words as I reflected on World Peace Day, I got the loveliest of images in my mind. I pictured, we'll say, God, as Cardinal Suenens was a Bishop…I pictured the hand of God casting love in the vast chambers of my heart. Like a farmer, casting seed feed for her chickens. And that love, that food of the divine, grew and pushed out of the physical boundaries of my heart and body and spread out as far as I could see and feel.
It's a pretty image and I like the spiritual soundness of it. One of my favorite priests, Father Rod, once gave a homily on the sacred nature of the Eucharist. How, when you took the Eucharist in, you were literally feeding your cells with the holy. (Don't get the idea that I'm a regular church goer…I'd hate to perjure myself on accident…but Father Rod and I…I did rather love him.)
However, as lovely as the above is… these are truly times that trouble one's soul. And as beautiful as that thought is, I rather struggle to hang my hat on it. Never before in my life has the need for World Peace Day seemed so essential. It is a harsh world out there full of seemingly insurmountable need and suffering and violence and injustice. It is hard for me because it breaks my heart. But it is also hard for me because I can literally feel that energy trying to creep into my heart and take up residence. How can people be so horrible? Yet when I hate them for being horrible, if I react to viciousness with viciousness, no matter how (self) righteous the viciousness might sound, then I am making up a bed for all of that hate and asking it to stay.
Instead… instead I try to live the knowledge of a profound truth that I picked up from the Dalai Lama. And for the life of me I can't find the actual quote, so you will need to live with my paraphrase. The greatest that is in me is in everyone else, the least that is in anyone else is also in me. Think about it…I mean, really think about it. Inside every human heart lies the capability for great love or great hatred. It must be so.
That person who cuts the line, the manager who holds you back for no good reason, the politician who is bought and paid for, the terrorist who murders innocents. The capability for all of those deeds is in you. I know you are awesome: that you hold doors for strangers, rescue strays, feed the homeless, help your co-workers shine, vote for responsible and ethical candidates, recycle and drive a responsible car, create beautiful art and children. Set your "greatness" aside for a moment. Understand the darkness. Understand what helped it grow. What does it take you to be the person who cuts the line? What would it take to become the terrorist who kills innocents? The least that it is in anyone else is also in me.
But then return to your greatness. Understand the light. Understand what helped it grow. The greatest that is in you is in everyone else. And on this day, and every day, do your best to promote a world in which everyone has the best possible chance to live their best possible self. I know, in both my heart and my head, that this is the basis for any kind of lasting peace - in our homes, in our communities, in our nation and in our world.
Peace and good things.