The Sweet Peace of Before and After

They’re really quite miraculous, but so very easy to miss. There is often a silence before something immense and filled with impact happens. It’s that pregnant with possibilities moment. And then at the end of something momentous, there’s an instant that is the moment after delivery, the no longer pregnant reality of delivery that is equally profound.

Hold that silence. Breathe it in. Just before sunset. Just before dawn. Just before music begins. Just after it ends.

Classical musicians are trained to do it, maybe not in those words, but nonetheless… but so many musicians are not… they never let the note carry into the ether before crashing down into the next… or more likely turning immediately to talk about what they’re going to play next (as if you can’t set up two songs in a row.)

Keeping your eye on the prize might also include savoring and celebrating that prize. Those moments of awareness change life. They are a pause for an inhalation. Before night falls or day breaks. After incredible Beauty or unthinkable tragedy. They stop life and magnify it. It’s a sin to miss the Peace in them. And when have you ever heard me use that word?


Making Peace with Life

No one’s life is easy. Some people’s lives are more difficult than others’. Some creatures’ lives are more difficult than others.

Animals, because they’re pretty good about being in the present, deal with what’s in front of them. They don’t expect extraordinary things of people who aren’t capable of extraordinary things. They don’t expect beyond the possible, the real.

It’s a good lesson to learn. A friend of mine, Notty Bumbo, wrote a great piece the other day about dealing with pain and disability and how the story of exceptionalism disregards the every day efforts of getting out of bed when the pain is (more than usually) overwhelming. Some days those efforts are a bridge too far. So you wait and hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Most of us don’t have a great understanding of physical suffering. We’re lucky that we don’t have to. But let us call upon ourselves to be kind and supportive and aware. Let us seek the Peace that everyone needs.


Puddles of Peace on a Sabbath Morning

I’ve always loved these cloud configurations. When I was a child, they tried to convince me (and by they, I don’t mean my parents!), that a stern God kept watch on me from glorious clouds. It was sort of frightening.

But give me a few years, working on Peace, and I’m now able to see the Peace and the Possibility being poured out.

Today, on the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., with our world in a shambles, it’s a good day to consider whether we really want things to be different.

What world do you want to have? On whose behalf will you work — even sacrifice?

It’s a thought to mull over on a Sabbath isn’t it? Peace? What’s it worth to us? and Justice… for all. Let us Peace.


Remembering the Peace of Advent

One of the hard truths about this time of year is that we are forced to confront what we may have missed, or have lost. For some of us, those of us who are very privileged, the holidays have been sweet, families have been united and traditions have traveled between the generations. But even those people have lost beloved family members who are no longer there.

It takes a while to recalibrate. It takes a while to decide to focus not on what i don’t have but on what is there. It’s important for me to honor the heart of the holidays, both religiously and communally. But it’s also time to cut out the pieces of the holiday that no longer fit.

I love to think of the root of the word remembering … to re-member, to piece back together. To take the remnants of the good and to make something beautiful from it.

It takes a while to demand (of yourself) the space to celebrate holidays in your image in a fashion that suits you. But you are worthy of that. If you’re alone, find other people who also are. Or celebrate another holiday and make that yours until you can reclaim your own for yourself.

Remember the holidays… Feel free, not to long for what you once believe you had, but to create that which celebrates the deepest possibilities of life. Savor the Dark. Explore the Mystery. Be amazed by the Wonder. Gather with those who love you as you are — even if that means you’re alone and loving yourself fiercely.

Allow your holidays to be filled with Peace. Share that with others. Remember. Make that cloak of beautiful memories and move forward with joy. Peace be with you. Peace be with us all.

Alternative Advent December 12 – 15¢ if you have dishes in your house. There are actually people in our Susquehanna Valley who do not. So be generous. if you have more than one set, try 15¢ per set.





Sabbath Opening to Advent, to Peace

Today, in the advent wreathe we add the candle Love to the candle Hope. Love Makes things possible. This is the prayer my community will say in services this morning:

The Second Candle is lit for Love. Are you willing to open your heart to its abundance? Can you be generous with the world and its brokenness?

May I be a generous person, quick to open my heart to new friends, new places and new ways of doing things. May I be known as a lover of life, one who embraces the world as it is and works to temper its harshness with gentle acceptance. Blessed be.

It’s easy to resist this however, which is why today’s word is opening. I must open to the possibilities when everything within me is so ready to shut down. Fear makes you do that. Anger. Being just damned tired of the bullshit.

But today, I have a new book to read by Virginia Zimmerman: The Rosemary Spell … rosemary is my very favorite herb. I wrote my thesis to a candle of rosemary, knowing that the Greeks used rosemary wreaths as prizes for their intellectual Olympics.

It is my Sabbath, a time for reflection. It is Advent, a time for preparation for what is to come. It is time to open for Peace.


Oh, For Some Anonymous Peace

I live in a small town. And most of the time that’s amazing. You know your neighbors (yes, in all their glory!)

But sometimes, you really want to be off duty. I know ministers are not only people who feel this way. I was at a party with a friend who’s a horse doc… and someone zeroed right in on her…

So the words “Aren’t you…” are enough to strike fear into my heart. and I’m so many things: a minister, an activist, a UU, a witch and a drummer’s wife. Oh, and a back-up singer. And occasionally all ’round crazy. We all have our moments. Oh, and I have snarky moments as well…

And I admit, Mondays are not my best days. I probably shouldn’t leave the house. I’m over peopled. But face down in a swimming pool is exactly where I need to be. So off I go.

And then someone recognizes you. And I have hilarious conversations in pools.

But sometimes, I’m not well-armored for the conversations that worry about keeping folk in boxes. Spandex and soap aren’t great protection. And the swimming opens me right up.

And yes I know, people have needs and ministry isn’t just a job… But some days, I’m less well prepared to be a Peacemaker than others. That’s the thing about being human. But other days, it works fine. Some days, there are people working on social justice. Life is a balance — which means sometimes you’re out of balance!

Whatever, I do wish us all Peace. Even on Mondays. Especially on Mondays. Peace.


Hearts Must Join in Peace

It is something that you and I both work for Peace. But it is not enough.

At some point, maybe points, our hearts must join and we must work together.

Our notions of Peace cannot become competing visions because then we’re not working together. Peace is a thing of joined hearts.

So we must Peace. Together and separately. We must keep our hearts open to the possibilities and the beauty of Peace. It’s hard work. but it’s the only work.


Pride and Peace

I have wonderful friends. I know wonderful people. People who do ordinary and extraordinary things. People who do things to the best of their abilities. People who stretch beyond what is expected of them… whether by others or by themselves.

We have this weird thing going on in today’s culture…  we have both very low expectations of people, jumping up and down when you phone in a an experience — and ridiculously high ones: failing to notice when when people reach deep into themselves and pull out all that is bright and beautiful and put it to work.

When we do our halting best and do a good job, that means something.

Too often we don’t turn to those we love — or even to those we barely know and say good job you worked so hard, you really tried. Not even you succeeded — you worked your heart out on that. The least I can do is be present enough in the moment to notice and to tell you.

And it’s good to know that your friends treasure your work because they know what it costs you. We all do a lot of things that aren’t the easy things for us. We should be proud of ourselves. And we should be proud of people we know. And we should tell them.

I know this is dicey. I know that that pride can be a dangerous thing. It can become more about the pride and less about the doing what needs to be done.

But sometimes we need that encouragement. Sometimes we are so petrified at what we’re undertaking it means the world to have someone turn and say, yep. you’re doing a wonderful job. Keep going. You’ve discovered new possibilities. You’re working hard and doing good. A friend of mine always used to say 5 attaboys or attagirls for you. Yes, you.

My friends, I’m proud of you. Be Peaceful with yourselves. You’re doing the best you can — so much more than you imagined you could.


Peace in the Pool

Normally when I write about the Peace I find in the pool, it’s all about me — the water, the rhythm, the quiet.

But yesterday’s Peace was brought to us by a 92-year-old Hungarian emigré.

It’s one of those decisions I juggle. Do I speak to people I don’t know when I’m wearing a few ounces of nylon. It’s a vulnerability thing. I once had a woman introduced to me, who decided based on the introduction what my politics were and why she abhorred them, and i thought, what? I’m in my happy place and you’re going off? blah.

But, my natural curiosity makes me susceptible. And in this case, it was a lovely contact.

We who whine often don’t stop to think about why this place is valuable. We often spend more time whining than making things even better. Because truth to tell, if you travel at all or live abroad, you realize how many things are good here…

So why not work to make them better. Wringing our hands never did much to make things work…

and then, after Monsieur L’Emigré climbs out, my other favorite nonagenarian dropped into the pool. Another political conversation ensued.

What a delightful world we live in.

Peace is waiting to be picked up and celebrated. It’s in our hands.

And, along those lines did you vote? Because Peace is in our hands, and it’s lucky we are that’s so.


Prisoners Deserve More Peace

People do bad things. I understand that. And there are consequences for your actions. I understand that.

In a better world, in my estimation, we would rehab the people who could be rehabilitated and safely house those who, for whatever reason, can’t be.

Things are bad enough when the government runs prison industries and gets labor done for pennies on the $10. But things are so much worse with the privatized prisons. So much worse.

I just looked up fire-fighting. It’s actually not very well paid for the danger people are in. Annual salary ranges from $26-34,000. I find that shockingly low. But when you’re paying people $723 a year plus two dollars a day — and then forcing people to buy from the company store where things are outrageously overpriced, shame on us. shame on us.

There have always been forest and wildland fires. Now thanks to global climate change there are more. So, it’s expensive. But this is the piper to be paid. To leverage our unwillingness to admit any complicity or to make any changes that might ameliorate or at least stop the situation on the backs of the imprisoned is outrageous.

Do I have answers? No, I don’t.

And these prisoners, being heroes out on the fire lines, may not respond when spoken to. When someone says thanks for saving my house, have a cookie, they must say nothing and walk away. Why? What does that gain us?

We seem to have decided this is who we are as a country. I’m willing to help us think differently about ourselves. Are you? Whatever people have done, however badly they have coped with their  lives, they are people.  Each one has worth and dignity. When we say and act differently, we attack our own humanity. To use them without any allowance for their humanity demeans us.

There must be some kind of Peace that can be found. I believe in possibility. I believe in Peace.