Advent - A Season for Peace

I did not set out to write a series of Advent reflections. I write only when I am inspired to do so - and when I get a clear message that somehow something in my heart must be conveyed...

And while I know that not everyone that reads this blog comes from the same spiritual or philosophical background - or even the same interests or convictions - I try to convey messages and values that are both timeless and universal, and accessible to all. And so today, I write of peace, because in the last few days, so many messages received have reminded me of its importance...

As I mentioned a few days ago, I have been reading the daily reflections on a a site called "Following the Star," and this weeks entries focus on peace.

Forty-two years ago today, Thomas Merton, perhaps the most prolific spiritual writer of all time - and most certainly of the 20th century - died accidentally, while attending a monastic conference in Thailand. Merton was a Trappist Monk, an activist, a poet, a theologian - and many countless other things as well. His writings continue to be published even to this day, for he left behind a vast corpus of inspirational works and scholarly treatises.

Merton died the same year that Robert F. Kennedy did, and Martin Luther King, Jr. as well. And though he was cloistered, through the eloquent power of his pen, he managed to affect many, in addition to corresponding with the great minds of his time - political and religious figures alike - such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Dorothy Day, and a legion of others. He died during the height of the Vietnam War, and was an outspoken critic of the war and a crusader for peace.

Elie Wiesel once said that "indifference...is the epitome of evil." For not caring about others, is what leads to it. Instead of being indifferent, we must reach out to others in need - starting with those around us.

The devotional site, "Following the Star," posted the following this week:

"Some might think it foolish to speak of peace these days. But for people of faith, the promise remains. In the midst of war, division - and simple rude behavior, we are still committed to a much different vision. Set aside the time for something more...The peace that is coming and that has come."

Today, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in absentia to Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo. One lone, empty chair, drew attention to his incarceration, and more than anything, loudly screamed and proclaimed to all of us willing to hear, that peace remains absent in many places on this earth.

This season, let us all not only meditate on the meaning and necessity of peace, but let us work for it - and commit to reflecting it more deeply, in our words and actions - in our families and workplaces - indeed, in all areas and aspects of our lives. For truly, we can only change the world, one person at a time. This season - seek peace. Embody peace. Offer peace.

As a liturgical song I once sang so simply states:

"Let there be peace on earth,
and let it begin with me."

Here are a series of quotes I ran across this week as well:

"Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

"Be so drunk with the love of God
that you will know nothing but God;
and give love to all."
~ Sri Daya Mata

"If you wish to experience peace,
provide peace for another."
~ The Dalai Lama

"Peace is not the absence of war,
it is a virtue, a state of mind,
a disposition for benevolence,
confidence, and justice."
~ Spinoza

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