In my last post, From the Smallest of Things, I asked you to consider taking on the big things around you without fear — like making peace in a world torn in conflict. Indeed, as I looked at my own shortcomings and wondered what I could ever achieve, I suggested that we all most be willing to do small things.
I believe the first step is learning to create a small space.
In 2007, our Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution hosted the first Residency Session for our graduate students. Over the course of a week in Dallas, we guided and encouraged our new peacemakers to trust their training and their life experiences. We provided opportunities for practice and linked theory to application. And we did not separate the role that our higher power has in bringing and sustaining peace.
On the last day of that session, we gathered our students into a beautiful room with windows that magnified the light of a bright summer day. This place had been designed and used as a church sanctuary. Shortly before that closing ceremony, I had been in that room alone. I was caught up in the idea that this was the perfect place for individuals in conflict to come together, to be joined by something greater than themselves, and to find a resolution that would mutually benefit all.
Yet, as the students and my colleagues made their way in and I saw each of them anew, I realized that the perfect place for peacemaking was anywhere that individuals could create a space — no matter how small — to allow each other room to work together with the other.
And I also discovered that a spiritual moment surfaces in that same place. Even the smallest of places can be blessed with the presence of a higher power — God, nature, a principled system. This presence brings weight to the occasion and, more often than not, the lubricant that allows people to move past their differences in quest of peace. In this space is introduced time for thought and consideration, time for conversation, and a time for building relationship.
As I’ve thought more and more about this holy place, I’ve realized that every human has the capacity in her or his heart for such space. The worries and demands of our lives often crowd into this sacred territory, but it remains there . . . waiting for its ultimate purpose.
If you can create a small space in your heart and encourage others to do the same, peace will fill it. More importantly, peace will spill from it, spawning greater and greater possibilities.