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.


Making Peace with What’s Below the Surface

Things are not always what they seem. Even the most beautiful things often have their roots in the ugly. What is on the outside is sometimes carefully manicured and monitored so that what roils below isn’t visible.

My valley, and probably your valley too, is having awful heroin problems. 15 deaths in the region this year. We rank high in child abuse and spousal abuse. Some of our schools are model schools and some of them have among the lowest graduation rates in the states. Joblessness is high. Once thriving cities in this beautiful valley are rust-belt shadows.

And bad things happen in beautiful houses as well as in tenements.

And yet the sun sets on beauty. And beautiful things happen as well.

What matters is that we don’t let the beauty be all we see. Peace needs to confront the unpleasant. This needs to happen so that the people may live and the land might thrive.

We need to take a hard look at our beautiful world and roll up our sleeves. Peace gets built from the ugliness, from a longing for the beauty, but it must be built on Truth. May we Peace, today and every day. Truth matters. Peace matters. Every day.