As I sat with friends last night, the conversation talked to blessings and the gifts we had received from spending time together. A stack of “gift certificates” were circulated and we were instructed to take the one on top and pass it on.
I almost laughed out loud when the certificates reached me. The top document proudly proclaimed that I had received the gift of “Peace.”
How fitting and how eerie! I am a conflict resolution professional and teacher . . . a peacemaker. And here was a proclamation that I had been given the gift of peace. But it wasn’t just me. Others in that room were staring at the “random gift” they had received only to realize that, indeed, that particular gift was one that carried great meaning and, for some of us, a little irony. (For example, a minister just a few feet away revealed that she had received the gift of “Faith.”)
We were asked to share some thought about the gifts. As I thought about that gift, I thought about the many things I tell others about peace:
- “Peace isn’t the absence of conflict.”
- “If we can make peace, we will be called the children of God.”
- “Peace can be kept. Peace can be made. Lasting peace must be built within each individual.”
None of those statements could be more true. But as I heard my friends talk of other gifts . . . acceptance, balance, compassion, openness, joy, serenity, forgiveness . . . my thoughts about peace were realigned and refocused.
I know and I teach all of the skills of being a peaceful person. Peace is about finding mutual gain for every single person. Peace is not an international sea of calm. Peace is not a lack of ripples on the water.
Peace is an individual commitment to bringing a balance of justice and mercy to the world.
While there are many textures to that statement, the key phrase is “individual commitment.” You see, we all know, at some level, what is right and what we should do in every given situation. But doing that is difficult. It takes great energy. Doing right requires tremendous focus. And it seems that opportunities for finding peace seem to multiply as we pursue that special place.
Bringing peace demands commitment.
Because peace can exist in the midst of conflict, peace is always available.
- Peace exists in the heart of every man, woman and child.
- Peace can become a natural state of living if we allow it to shape our daily decisions.
- Peace breaks the cycle of conflict and war.
- However, because peace lives in each of us, conflict and war cannot eradicate peace.
Being a person of peace requires commitment. Being peaceful requires thoughtful response.
Building peace in ourselves and those around us demands that we persevere . . . that we act consistently and constantly offer peace to those around us.
And the gift that we receive from all of that effort?