Column: Focus - Christmas Special
Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men
by guest author, Bonnie Starr Mandell-Rice
Let there be peace on Earth,
"Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men."
Though these wishes are not limited to any particular group (religious or otherwise) of people, we hear and see them most often during the Christmas season.
During this season, there does seem to be, if not more peace, at least more good will among people, evidenced by cheery holiday greetings and an opening of hearts and pocketbooks to those less fortunate Maybe it is just the scent of all those coniferous trees that create this heady (heart-y) feeling in us.
It makes me wonder if perhaps we should not keep spruce and pine trees bedecked in lights and glittering ornaments and gingerbread scented candles burning in our homes and public places all year long.
Peace on Earth, good will toward men, however, ultimately depends on one thing and one thing only: You (and me and each of us).
If there is not peace in our hearts, there cannot be peace in the world. This is because the world at large is but a reflection of what is in each of us collectively. If we do not have good will toward men, there will not be good will in the world. We cannot wait for others. The time of waiting is long past. I don't know about you but I am soooooo tired of waiting.
Find your center... which is peace
Sometimes I have to remind myself: "Do not let your being tired of waiting disturb your peace." As a practical matter, there will be times (until there are not) when your peace is disturbed: an unkind word is spoken, the news is bad, work is stressful.
When your peace is disturbed, be like a lake whose stillness is broken momentarily by a pebble being tossed into it or a breeze rippling across it. The pebble falls, the breeze blows, and then the lake returns to stillness. The lake is not the pebble; it is not the breeze; it is simply itself. So, when the pebble falls or the breeze blows in your life and you feel disturbed, do not attach a story or a judgment to what has happened; simply resettle into your self. Find your center, which is peace.
If you go into judgment, if you attach a story, you are identifying with the disturbance. You are not the disturbance, the story or the judgment. You simply have chosen those things and the related drama over your self, over the peace that you are and that is your birthright.
In letting go of our judgments, our stories, and all that we have not forgiven, we let go of our ill will. When we let go of our ill will, there is room for good will to take root and grow. How else can there be good will toward (all) men if we do not harbor good will – good thoughts and good intentions - in our hearts and practice good will in our lives? The bumper sticker that was on my sister's old car for many years said it perfectly: "Practice random acts of kindness."
Let go of our judgments,
Think of the times when someone scowled at you. Did you let that action steal your peace by your clinging to what happened? Or did you let it blow through you, like the breeze through an open door, and stay in or return to your center? Knowing that everything that appears to be other than love is but a call for love, did you "turn the other cheek" and show good will by saying a kind word in return or by simply blessing the person silently?
Hold the peace and extend good will
We think (unless we do not) that it is hard to be or remain peaceful, that it is hard to show good will toward others unless they show good will toward us, that someone else should make the first move Those are just thoughts. Why believe them?
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