I don’t know about you, but I am tired. Between COVID fatigue, political fatigue, protest fatigue, anger fatigue, and just plain getting-older fatigue, I am exhausted. And probably a little depressed too. I am in need of healing.
Music has always seemed to have a way of healing my spirit, of lifting me up when I am down, of getting through my shell in ways that words alone do not. For that reason, I have learned to stop and listen when song lyrics keep running through my mind. The past several days, one line has kept repeating itself: “Let all contention cease.” (I wonder why!) I couldn’t put the notes to the words, though, so I could not figure out where the words were from. Thankfully, Google can do what my memory struggles to do most days. The line is from one of the verses of Where Charity and Love Prevail. The whole verse goes like this:
“Let strife among us be unknown,
let all contention cease;
Be God’s the glory that we seek,
be ours God’s holy peace.”
Wow! Wouldn’t that be wonderful right about now!
Another line that has frequently come to mind is, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” I know well where that line comes from. Let There Be Peace on Earth was my class song for eighth grade graduation some five decades ago.
Back then, as a naïve and innocent teenager, I truly thought it was that easy: sing a song, say a prayer, and peace would happen. In the five decades since, our world has not experienced peace for even one day. There has always been an armed conflict going on somewhere. Our nation seems to grow less peaceful with each passing day. In these days of chaos, peace seems like an impossible dream. Yet how can we survive without at least some hope that peace is possible?
The answer is there in those lyrics. “Let peace begin with me.” “Be God’s the glory that (I) seek.” Healing and peace must start within me, but it can’t be about just me. Despite my struggles with the chaos around me, I had to start somewhere. It seemed like the first step to healing me and the world around me was to begin planting seeds of peace within myself. Some suggestions I found are:
– Focus my attention on those things I can control and accept that I cannot change others. (Much easier said than done!)
– Spend time in nature. Nature is conducive to relaxation and the exercise helps, too.
– Live a life that’s true to my values.
– Try to make healthy food choices and minimize or avoid junk food. (That’s a hard one, too!)
– Take the focus off of myself and do something kind for someone else.
– Spend time in silence, meditating or just intentionally placing myself in God’s presence.
The suggestion to take the focus off myself led me to think about the next step: how could I help heal the world around me and plant seeds of healing and peace “out there”? It was not hard to find inspiration in stories of people who are doing something to try to bring healing and peace:
– A college sophomore, homeless himself only a year ago, walked more than 500 miles from his hometown in Caroline County, Virginia, to his college in Massachusetts in an effort to recognize an estimated 500,000 Americans affected by homelessness. Along with his journey, he started a GoFundMe page that has since raised more than $100,000 for The National Alliance to End Homelessness.
– The Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates from Utah joined together to create a series of political ads calling for civility in politics. Even though they disagree on policy issues, they agreed to debate the issues with mutual respect instead of name-calling, personal insults and character attacks.
– A young man of Middle-Eastern descent created interfaith foods that observe the strict dietary laws of both Muslims and Jews, and made them more accessible, in the hope that food can serve as a medium for cultivating peace and building greater cultural awareness and understanding.
– A 13 year-old from Seattle has been helping his community since he was 6. This year alone, he has donated thousands of masks, meals, items of clothing, hand sanitizers and other equipment to help the homeless community in Seattle stay safe during this pandemic.
Ordinary people like these give me hope. To me, these people and so many more like them are planting seeds of healing and seeds of peace. Could Jews and Muslims sharing a meal heal two families of faith and bring peace to the Middle East? Could two men in Utah help heal our nation and change the future of politics in America? Could a college student and a 13 year old on opposite coasts end homelessness? Ultimately, the answer is up to us.
Seeds take time to grow, and seeds need to be nurtured. We have to start by planting seeds of healing and peace within ourselves. We can nurture seeds of healing and peace many others have planted by supporting their efforts. We can also do what other healers and peacemakers have done: plant seeds of healing and peace where we live or work. We only have to choose to reach outside ourselves, outside our comfort zone, and do something kind for another person. Maybe, like the examples above, we can do something good for someone we don’t even know, someone we have never met and may never meet. Maybe that dream of peace is not so impossible after all.
What seeds of healing and seeds of peace will you plant or nurture today?
– Marge Lindell