In ancient Chinese practices, there was recognition that peace begins in the closest place – within each human heart and mind. “If there is to be 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 homes. If there is to be peace in the homes, there must be peace in the people.” This wisdom has been understood through generations in almost every culture, yet, we forget — we forget. Forgetting has become our cultural habit, distracted and limited as we are by stuff and ego, anxiety and fear. We should be careful, and thoughtful, about our words and deeds in this season of holidays. If we are going to sing about peace, we must first consider and contemplate how much peace we are nurturing in our own hearts, and how much peace we are creating in our relationships. If we are going to celebrate the balance of light and dark, day and night, we must consider and contemplate how well we move between the two – how much we understand the necessity of both. If we hope for the accomplishment of “goodwill to all” we have to start with our own families and neighborhoods.
Has it ever been harder to cultivate peace and goodwill? Perhaps not, and yet we are not the only humans to be alive amidst war and strife. Perhaps this is why the old admonishments feel so welcome, and so comforting. Once again, we are invited to begin again. May this then be our practice, our observance of the holidays and holy days, our celebration of the season: to find peace in the gift of every breath, to let that peace move through us and into the world as love and respect, as consideration for the well-being of all. Yes, it’s hard, yet nothing is more needed. May we hear the invitations, and may we begin again.
Sending love to you all in this season of great possibilities – Jill