There is no way to peace….

A. J. Muste

The Resources

The penultimate beatitude gives us another turn of the jewel that is the heart to allow a fresh perspective and reflection on the shape and flavour of a life lived in the flow of grace:

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”

the message

Or you may prefer the more familiar translation:

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’

NRSV

Take some time to dwell with this little powerhouse of a beatitude which invites us to reflect on the nature of peace making and peace keeping, on the peace that passes understanding and the peace which so often eludes us in every sphere of relationship and community – personal, familial and collegial; faith and interfaith; political and economic; local and global.

The Prompts

There are good reasons for engaging in peacemaking, and clearly our families, our communities and our world need us to be people of peace – people who do not only talk of peace, but whose lives are lived in the way of peace.

What does it mean to you to ‘make’ peace?

There are many layers to peel back when pondering how to identify and nurture the peaceful approach to self, others and the planet. You might want to look at this article explaining the motivational dynamics in the Karpman drama triangle as you ponder how you respond to conflict and disagreement.

What is it that motivates you to make peace, or attempt to keep peace – this may be through your silence, through presenting an alternative perspective or through actively mediating between others?

How does it feel when you engage in making peace?

How effective are your peace making strategies?

Many efforts at peace making aim to eliminate conflict and disagreement by brokering a ceasefire and negotiating a compromise but without creating a space, or securing any willingness, for listening and understanding between different parties. A peace may be brokered that is superficial and fragile because the need to be heard and understood remains unmet.

Francis of Assisi told his monks as they went out to preach and to beg:

And more recently, Franciscan Richard Rohr has said: “The way you do anything is the way you do everything”. If we approach peacemaking from a place of fear, of judgement, of frustration or even of dispassion how can we hope to guide others into the way of peace?

Peace and passion can seem to be at opposite poles, especially as the role of peacemaker is often understood as having the ability to stand in a dispassionate space where one can see both (all) sides of a situation and therefore can judge more clearly than those who hold a particular view informed by a particular experience.

Where do passion and compassion come into your living as a peacemaker?

The Practices

Peace within…

Jesus calls us to follow him, and so we do, trusting he knows where he’s going. He talks about God as One who treasures us so utterly and completely, who is so delighted with us and longs to bless us. If we can recognise, accept and return to this bubble of joy-filled light in the depths of our being as the whole truth, as the touchstone for all our experience, the reference for all our self doubt and shame, the perspective for any inkling of pride and independence, then the overflow of this inner wellspring is peace. Peace will be the soundtrack we dance to, the tune we hum as we wash up, the rhythm that we move with.

What is the song that sings to you of joy-filled light? What is the song that God sings over you with delight? Here’s mine. When you find yours (it may take a while to suggest itself to you) find a way to sink into it; let it sink into you; let the peace rise within you like an underground spring, nourishing your heart with the shalom of Love.

Peace among….

The absence of conflict is sometimes because of harmony and accord. But that could be because we are surrounded with people who behave, believe, think and feel as we do.

It could be we are buffered or removed from difference of culture, habit and perspective; it could be we have brokered a way of relating to others that may, at times, experience the wobble of a frustrated victim, a resentful, put upon rescuer or a perceptive persecutor but is essentially stable. In which case, the peace among us may be less substantial than it seems.

Conflict does not have to be violent or involve raised voices.

  • Passive-aggressive gossip
  • manipulation
  • avoidance
  • withholding information
  • bullying
  • power plays

are the signs of subterranean conflict.

Contrary to popular opinion, peace is not characterised by a lack of conflict or ‘agreeing to disagree’ without addressing underlying differences and embracing the inbuilt diversity of the universe. Peace is a dynamic, fluid, generative process that asks us to be present to ourselves with authenticity and to one another with humility.

Check over the list above. Identify one relationship where you recognise your own patterns of hidden conflict at play, and commit to pray for yourself, for them and your relationship each day.

You may like to use the beads to do this,

you may like to use the loving kindness prayer from last post.

Alternatively, you could use a bag of jelly beans and a bowl or a jar.

Each time you think of the person, place a bean in the bowl. Once the bowl is full, then each time you think of them, eat a jelly bean. You can choose a more healthful bowl filler if you prefer – roasted peanuts? The point of this is cumulative, active, transformational engagement in prayer and awareness – so be prepared for life to offer you an opportunity to listen, to talk honestly, to change a habitual story about the other person or yourself, to choose a different way to talk about them, or to them. The beans and the bowl help to give a framework and a focus for your intention and your awareness.

Peace abroad…

A strong motif in Celtic spirituality is the sense of life as journey and an annual pilgrimage is one way that motif is made manifest. On a daily basis, our movements tend to have more of a routine and circular flavour than that of the pilgrim’s fresh start through unfamiliar territory and towards a finish line. Despite this, we may still cultivate an attitude of journeying through each day.

The following pilgrim’s prayer offers one way to do this. You may like to write it out and stick it somewhere you can see it often through the day. You may like to memorise it, or set it to music and sing it.

Or you may find another way to journey with it…

In our journeying this day,
keep us, Father, in your way.
Guide us, Saviour, by your word,
you alone be overheard.
May we, Spirit, with you walk
in our thoughts and in our talk.
In our friendships let us be
in the Blessed Trinity.

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