No laughing. My Midheaven is ruled by Cancer. And, guess which sign is having their birthday right now – YES – Cancers. Of course, because this zodiac sign rules my 10th House, it lights up my ‘work’ abilities to the maximum. I literally did a reading at lunch today at work for a colleague while eating pizza. The Green means Go, and all the lights are on.
Thus, when I sit eating my dinner tonight and realize that Peace is a subject that needs a voice – I heed the call. Peace, here I come.
We pray for it over Christmas. We raise our glasses in toasts over the dinner table to its vision. Our pastors teach us to exercise it with one another. Our family or friends shout it from the living room during the last Season Episode of Outlander. “Can I just get some peace?!?” We watch the news and say it out loud, “When will the world just figure all this out and find peace?”
Truly, though, why are we asking for this so much? How many folks out there really make peace a priority in their lives, in their activities, in their homes and workplaces? How about I ask straight out – how many people do you personally know that has peace ruling supreme in their lives in this very moment? I’ll bank the answer is: “Not a whole lot.”
Yet, the cry for peace on this planet is one of the strongest cries around the globe. Peace. What makes it so important, and who in the world knows what that means?
I’ve got this ‘Top-Down’ method of picking elderly folks to be my friends and mentors instead of folks my own age. I’ve always been that way. I’ve always admired aging gracefully by watching them. I’m not quite sure where that comes from, but my husband loves to joke that I’m a little old lady through and through. I knit, I play the piano and I read Tarot cards. Stereotypes be damned, I even go play the piano at the Old Folks’ homes whenever I’m in a town. After spending so much time with elderly folks, they kind of rub off on you. During one of the visits to my elderly mentor, Amabel, she sat me down to tell me this story.
Once upon a time, there was a grandfather sitting on a porch watching his grandchildren play in his front yard. He would sit there quietly watching every time they came to visit. One day, his grandson jumped onto the deck of his porch and said, “Grandpa, I want a present!” The grandfather replied, “Of course, I won’t just give you a present – I’ll give you the secret to the present!”
The child didn’t quite understand what the grandfather meant. He assumed he would receive the gift later and ran off to play. Of course, the grandson grew as the years passed, but he never forgot the grandfather’s promise. Each summer when he visited his grandfather, he would ask the same question, “Grandpa, are you ever going to give me that secret about my present?” And, the grandfather would answer, “I always keep my promises.”
Years later, and many more requests for the present, the grandfather passes to The Other Side. The young man felt slightly bereft that his grandfather died without passing the secret to the present to him. Years passed. He grew and began building a family of his own. Life moved faster and faster until one day his own children began moving out of his home on to their new lives.
His house became quieter. They stopped using the dining table in the dining room. Soon, his wife complained that the house was too big for just the two of them. Slowly but surely, time had caught up with him. He found less to do as he retired and began to spend time inside of his mind. He would turn over the memories of days gone past feeling that his life was only partially lived. He wondered if he accomplished his purpose and whether all he had done mattered in any lasting way.
He remembered days he was impatient with days of yelling to move faster. He recalled days of pushing his family and loved ones, stressing his marriage, working later than needed. Through his thoughts, the imprint that remained the longest was the reminder of how he chose to allow the speed and pressure of life remove all of his reasons for why he had tried so hard. Some days, his mind became torturous to him. He’d lay awake at night not able to sleep. Some days, the quiet was too much. In his mind, he just craved silence.
Then, an unexpected phone call came one day. His daughter was pregnant with his first grandchild. Joy entered his life again, and soon he would sit on his porch and watch his own grandchildren play. Memories of his own and the promise made by his own grandfather would come unbidden. In his musings, his granddaughter jumped to the porch and said, “Grandpa! I want a present!!” After so many years, understanding finally dawned. The secret to the present was: The Present.
My wish in this article is for the portrayal of peace to encompass three ideas that are lived in union from day-to-day. Accomplishing the steady reins of these three ideas are very similar, at times, to holding the reins of three horses all trotting at different rates. Over time and practice, it can be balanced with achievement to have all three on the same foot, therefore providing a gentler ride.
Peace is first and foremost the silence of acceptance inside of ourselves. Our minds can sometimes race and rule us, torture us and tease us. Our hearts can sometimes ach and keel us over catatonic, whether in pleasure or in the throes of pain. Sometimes, the hope of a dream wished for can use both our heads and our hearts together to RULE US.
It is through gaining and acquiring rulership over our own minds and hearts that peace truly begins from the spark inside of us. Without ourselves first achieving this state, it is impossible to reach out and elevate others. Peace begins with an inner working first.
I have this magnet on my refrigerator that I acquired while visiting the Holocaust Museum in Houston, TX. It says, “Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
Amabel’s little parable expresses the grandfather feeling this tremendous regret as he reviews his life with memories of every wrong performed for the lack of focus. How many things would he have done differently had he not allowed his own mind and emotions drive his intent instead of the other way around.
The world became a faster place and so he pushed harder and harder, probably out of worry, doubt or frantic for the next unexpected situation that could interfere with the pace. Yet, with the ability to calm his mind, with the ability to steady his heart, perhaps he could’ve remained steadier, calmer, gentler in his approach and not thrown from the true focus of his life – his family and loved ones.
The second portion of peace comes from the steady acceptance of something that is outside of our control. Powerlessness is not necessarily a facet that most would call the stronger force of life. The natural reaction for any human is to control something, sometimes choking the thing tighter and tighter until all air has left.
Fear is common. Bravery is uncommon. And, for me, powerlessness is the greatest accomplishment I can show during times when I most want to control a situation. In retrospect under the great sky at night, standing melancholy over a huge body of ocean or feeling the life of a child move inside of me, I already know I am not the one controlling any part of this Universe. There is a system here on this planet whose structure of seasons with the tilt of the Earth and movement of tides in the rivers and oceans all show me that there is something else in power here. I am not the one in control.
I don’t necessarily need to believe the force that holds these things together needs a name. For me, in regards to peaceful acceptance for things outside of my control, I just need to know that I am powerless. This does not mean I am not powerful. I am very powerful. I can be decisive, determined, intentional and stronger than those before me. But, the wisdom in knowing those things inside of my control vs. those things outside of my control is where soft acceptance lies. Sometimes surrender can be the most powerful act we choose.
Our grandfather in the story slowly felt this energy by the passing of time. Time is a factor we cannot control, yet time was the very aging process that remained outside of his control the entire time. His body would waste, his home would age, his children would grow and his life would slowly come to a place of crawl. Time. Our story shows powerlessness with time. Without acceptance of that force, the grandfather would view his world with bitterness or resentment. I believe the grandchildren revives his belief in the wonder of time closer to the end of the story.
The last part of peace for me includes remaining steadfast in the present. And, perhaps, this is the easiest grain of wisdom to pull from Amabel’s story. The child would never know the value of the present until he understood what was lost. Again, each moment we spend in constant speed without stopping to focus and breath, we find ourselves lost and taken by the rip tide of time.
Maybe it’s easier for you to see why I spend time with the elderly. And, of course, this is why I add that information into this article. Only an elderly person would know the hard lessons that life teaches before the pure understanding and awakening of peace truly enters the soul.
It takes a lifetime to fully grasp and understand that the very characteristic that will lay our heads to rest in sleep at night is the very thing our humanity systematically pushes away. In the end, if we can truly attain the state of peace, our nights will be restful and our days will be lived long with contentment.
Peace. World Peace. Imagine the entire world – all of us – breathing together. Breathing in unison.