It was International Day of Peace. People all over the world were living into a higher calling in a small but significant way. In four days on their Facebook page alone, there were over 42,000 people from across the world committing to pause for one minute. We were in different time zones, so like a quilt unfolding around the world, we prayed and meditated. I was aware that regular people like me of different faiths and economic brackets, passions, and fears – all long for a common thing: peace in our world. And I knew we were together in this whole peace thing.
At the same time, I have been whittling away at a curriculum I am writing for senior high students. It is called: Be the Change 101. It has been fun to dream up – and I am hoping will be helpful to them, to the community they share their lives with, and to the worlds these kids will touch. This particular community is a progressive, inclusive, social justice church, but I am hoping it will be helpful in other places as well.
To state the obvious, churches are funny places. I have worked in or been involved with a peculiar combination of churches over the years: small, mid-sized, and large mainline churches who fell across the theological and political spectrum, an independent Bible-based charismatic church – can I hear an Amen! – the largest (and likely “gay”est) Episcopalian church on this side of the Mississippi, an interfaith church, and a grass roots intentional community. It is not a “sordid” spiritual past, but it hasn’t been boring.
Incarnating what we believe, or being the change we want is no small task. But for people who follow a spiritual path, it is essential. And it takes a while to really get moving on it. It is a bit like a long historic novel that unravels far too slowly.
For one, we are mostly preoccupied with growing up. And by this, I mean adults and children. It takes a while to find our place, to figure out how to take care of our bodies in a way that is sustainable, to treat people “right”, to process failure, to create balance in our hassled lives, and to stay with our commitments. Growing up is hard work. And some of us have a wee bit more to tame than others of us.
How many people in your life are focused in such an intentional way? I don’t know very many. (You are one of them, of course, don’t worry.) Lord knows, I am not. I do try – but I am so easily distracted.
I have a friend who recently disconnected her Facebook account (WHAAAT?). She has been on a journey for some years to truly take a “Sabbath” during her week. She is clergy, so she has it especially hard. If you don’t know any “women of the cloth,” let me tell you: it’s a job and 1/2. On call. Crisis intervention. Trying to make people happy. Saying something meaningful to a room of people every Sunday. Oh, and perhaps every time you see someone. Organizing. Inspiring. There is a ton of pressure on clergy. So before you start throwing stones at them, remember they probably put up with a lot of crap before you walked into the room. I applaud her for such a move. Wow!
What do YOU want for the world? I have a song that goes,
“What do you want for all the world right now? Is it peace? Is it peace? How do you need to live to make that come about? Is it peace? Is it peace?”
The relationship between wanting something and becoming something is an important one. We know that we cannot work and pray for peace (or really anything important) without trying to live in a way that deepens our call into it. We cannot live with any real integrity if we commit ourselves to peace but scream at our children or flip off drivers who are going too slowly for our liking. It is hard sometimes.
I am no expert, except at trying again and again. But here are a couple of ideas:
- Silence your cynic – and develop a sense of humor that gives room for more grace and kindness in your life. Toward yourself, others, and dare I say politics.
- Start your day with a meditation or a prayer or an inspirational reading. Let it set the tone for being in your life. Choose carefully.
- Change your thinking. You may actually believe that you cannot change – and that you cannot change the world. Remember, as my friend David Lamotte likes to say, “you change the world every day, whether you like it or not.” The only question is: HOW
- Expect goodness to be revealed to you. No matter whether you attribute it to god, the laughing Buddha, the universe, Dee Dee Rainbow, nature, whatever. Goodness is everywhere. When you are open to it, you find it.
No more for today. Really, these are four things I go back to again and again. I am not sure there will ever be anything more for me. How about you?