Do you admire the Amish in part because they seem so peaceful?
Maybe you were moved by this now-classic scene in the movie Witness (1985)?
When those peace-loving Amish men come over the hill in this film, I can easily translate this fictional triumph of nonviolence into the vision in Revelation 22 when a river of peace flows down the great street of the city, the Tree of Life flourishes, and “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
I believe deeply that love overcomes hatred, violence, and fear. I claim this promise from I John 4: 18. “Perfect love casts out fear.”
Few if any of us will have confrontations as dramatic as the one in the movie above.
But each of us can take a few small steps every day. Below are ten suggestions for how to do so. They come not only from me but from my friends Wilma, Edgar, Connie, Jane, Cheryl, Chad, Sandy, Merv, Rhonda, Laurie, Patricia, and Roxanne.
1. Start every day with peace. Go outside in PJs or robe, coffee in hand. Greet the sun with thanksgiving. I love to sit in an Adirondack chair and listen to the birds while lifting my eyes to the hills from whence come my help.
2. Put the word “peace” into something you do every day. I sign my emails and letters “peace and joy” as a blessing to others, but also as a reminder to myself to practice what I preach. It also prevents me from angry outbursts I will regret later. Other places to insert peace: your password, website, or email address. For a long time I used the German word “Gelassenheit” as a password to remind myself to submit my anxieties to God.
When I use these three words in a signature, I remember a peace mentor, Atlee Beechy, whose own signature I am borrowing. I also remember all six of these wonderful people who created Seniors for Peace in their elder years. Atlee is second from the left.
3. Smile more. My friend Laurie found this quote, and it reminded me of my friend Rhonda’s advice.
4. Hug often.
5. Knit. Or jog. Or cook. Or wash dishes prayerfully with the intent of being peaceful.
6. Breathe deeply. Yoga will teach you.
7. Give and/or receive massage.
8. Listen deeply. Without defensiveness. Imagine how this person came to believe or feel something you don’t understand. Imagine yourself in his or her shoes.
9. Be kind even when others are being “idiots” – rude or obnoxious. Here is author George Saunders, whose graduation address on kindness went viral online a year ago and is now a book:
10. Pray for your enemies. This is the hardest test of all, but if we all practiced it more or better, we would connect to “that of God” in the other and find that it’s a lot harder to hate someone who’s been in your prayers.
Does peace seem impossible to you? Are you overwhelmed by cable news, a too-long “to-do” list, or by your own restless spirit?
If so, try one thing on this list and let us know what happens. Or tell us your own peaceful wisdom practice.