When we begin our journeys in this life, I don’t think we really have a concept of peace. As children and teens, we are looking for other things in our lives. Without peace, life can seem dull, cruel and worthless. As we find our peace within, we see more and more of what is really happening in our lives. With inner peace, we can survive more easily the hits the world sends our way.
So we are on our path and we decide we need inner peace. Well, then what? There is an inner landscape within us that is a source of peace if we but spend time there. Our peace takes choices: Do we hate or forgive? Do we judge others or accept them as they are? Do we look at others and think they are less than we are? Why would we do that? Because their skin color is different, they are less educated, because their clothes seem strange? We can’t look at others in a peaceful manner unless we are filled with peace ourselves.
What happens when others believe differently than we do? Do we fight? Do we make a judgement? No, we reach into our inner peace and spread some around us. We spread peace and everything becomes lighter. We spread peace and hope rises up like a beacon in the darkness. We spread peace and we become calmer and easier to deal with.
When we can live in peace, we look around us and see some very rare gifts we might have missed otherwise. I do not believe there is just one way to find inner peace. For myself, as I looked around at the world I saw dichotomies of peace and hate. Every time I did not choose hate, I found a little more peace within me. Every time I did not judge others harshly, my life grew more comfortable and peaceful.
Every time I helped someone else with a problem, a problem in my own life grew smaller and I felt better. Every time I committed a random act of kindness, one would unexpectedly return to me. Time after time, year after year, I got more comfortable with this huge cushion of peace in my life. When someone was mean, cruel or nasty, I found that I just sunk deeper into the cushion of peace that had formed around me.
Does this mean nothing ever hurts me or upsets me? No, it doesn’t, but it gets easier feel the inner peace than the hurt feelings. It is easier to reach out to others in kindness than anger. The peace we carry within is like a pebble we throw into a pond: as it ripples out in ever widening circles, it touches more and more people. Their inner peace flows outward to us and we become stronger in our own peace. It is a cycle in the wheel of life. The inner peace flows outward and touches those who need it. The cycle never stops.
Gerber Daisy, grown and painted by Barbara Mattio. Acrylic paint on canvas, copyright 2009