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Posts Tagged ‘Peace’

echidna-visitorHave you ever had a day of good intentions and set plans that goes horribly wrong? Last Tuesday was ‘one of those days’ for me.  I was the mad woman, disheveled hair, bulging eyes, trying to juggle all the pieces of her life.  Flying in the air were all my roles: mother, wife, sister, nurse maid, house cleaner, PA, friend spinning dangerously out of control.  About to collide in the muddle were the to-do lists, my daily work calendar brimming with tasks and my sick son who needed me to take him to the doctor straight away.   I shut my eyes breathlessly hoping that somehow it would all miraculously fall into place  – but instead it all came tumbling down with what felt like an almighty crash.  It felt so quiet and still after all the juggling stopped.

So I sent some emails and made some calls to excuse myself from life. I convinced the doctor’s receptionist that it was urgent and after the dash to the surgery I quietened the noise in my head and cared for my son. As I checked emails throughout the day I was surprised to see the world functioning quite happily without me.

But amidst the peace and quiet was  a gnawing feeling that I had failed somehow, and that all my heroic efforts in juggling my life had resulted in nothing more than a mess. I hadn’t even managed to get to work. That little voice inside was telling me what a hopeless failure I was.

Late in the afternoon  I heard my husband arrive home and call out to me. ‘What now?’ I thought…  But as I trudged out the door I saw that he wasn’t alone.  We had a visitor – very small, very spiky and quite amazing.  An Echidna had waddled up our driveway from the bushland across the road, right up to our front door, as if to drop by for some afternoon tea. He tolerated our cooing and rude staring as we introduced ourselves and  carefully carried him across the road back to his bush home, gloves protecting fingers from spikes poised ready for a stabbing.  His pointy nose and beady eyes gazed at us as he curled his impressive spiky self, long claws waving in the air.

dropping-by

Despite his threatening spikes, I was awestruck. Something about a random visit from this exquisite creature – so unique and striking – filled me with that crazy joy that bubbles up and is far more common in young children than the middle aged.  Along with the sense of joy came a sense of freedom.  So what if I couldn’t  control my day.  Perhaps my little friend hadn’t controlled his day too well either, misjudging his afternoon stroll in the bush on the hunt for some ants.  The need to control, to stress, to rush, to worry, to get everything done, no longer mattered.  Something about the wonder of our visitor allowed the chains of being human to slip away.

So if you’re having a bad day too, can I recommend spending some time with a four legged friend? Tell your dog or cat all about it and they’ll understand. Or take a walk in the bush and tell the gum trees and the lorikeets about your dreams and disappointments. Escape your electronic devices and reality shows and get outside to where nature is.  God’s fingerprints are all over the natural world.  It has a beauty that speaks joy to us and shows us a compassion so lacking in concrete and steel.  Nature teaches us the art of freedom – without the need for any words.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”  –  Job 12: 7-10

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 When the power of love
overcomes the love of power,
the world will know peace.

~Jimi Hendrix~

On a recent trip to Canberra, I was overwhelmed by a visit to the War Memorial.    As an avid lover of life-writing, I read some breathtaking letters from soldiers to their families, reassuring them of their love, and accepting their impending death.  I read brave accounts from nurses who struggled through each day ministering to the fallen soldiers, and trying to come to terms with their own grief and exhaustion.   

Wandering through the memorabilia, military equipment, uniforms, aircraft, bullets and models recreating the chaotic scenes, it was difficult to comprehend the reality of what the soldiers endured on a daily basis.    I noticed the different cut of the German uniforms, and their impressive aircraft, and for a moment I felt a shiver of fear.    Were the Germans a soul-less and cruel enemy so different from ourselves?     It is easy to think so.   The Germans and the Japanese may be perceived as evil people.   However, I can’t use this as an answer, as my grandfather was German.  These ‘fearsome enemies’ are my ancestors.    They are flesh and blood, with hearts and souls, and parents and children, just like you and me.     So how does it happen that good men find themselves killing one another, with little choice to do otherwise, believing that the other is the evil enemy?

This quote from Hermann Goering during the course of the Nuremberg Trials after World War II  (published in the book “Nuremberg Diary” by Gustave M Gilbert) sheds some light:

Naturally, the common people don’t want war……., but after all it is the
leaders of a country who determine the policy, and its always a simple
matter to drag the people along whether its a democracy, or a fascist
dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship…… voice or no
voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked,
and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the
country to danger. It works the same in every country.

Another chilling quote is from Adolf Hitler himself:

How fortunate for governments
that the people they administer don’t think.

As I reflected on this horrible truth – of the way power-hungry  narcissists like Adolf Hitler can rise to power because people ‘don’t think’ – leaving little choice for the multitudes to fight and lose their lives, I wondered what is behind all of this.    Is there something deeper in our human condition that contributes to our wars?

I found this simple but profound quote from Confucius:

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order;
to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life;
and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.

‘We must first set out hearts right’.    I think some of the answer lies in that simple line.   The seeds of war are planted by hearts that are so flawed and evil that destruction and death grow and thrive.    But there will always be mad people who want to take over the world.   I wonder how we as individuals can live so that we are awake and thinking, rather than blindly following?    I’m with Jimi Hendrix on this one – that the power of our love, must surpass our love of power, and then we will find peace.    Now this isn’t just a message for our leaders, it is a message for all of us.    The power of love needs to be present in each of us as individuals for peace to reign in the world.   I believe love is of the utmost importance to we humans, and is the whole bedrock of who God is.   Without it, and without God, we can become very ugly creatures, capable of all sorts of atrocities.

If I have a faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing…   from 1 Corinth 13:2

I am so grateful to all the Diggers who fought for us and who sacrificed their lives, with bravery and selflessness.    In the Wall of Remembrance in Canberra we found the name of my mother-in-law’s first husband, Leo – a small name amongst so many others, and my son put a poppy in the wall to remember him.  He died at 21 and never returned from Tobruk to his new wife, who still cries for him at 88.    Watching her cry, all I can do is pray for peace and healing.   Yet world peace is not something ‘out there’ to be hoped for.   It has to start in each of our hearts.

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