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Welcome to Peace Place...Dwell in this Moment

Peace Place is a free online journal. Here you'll find  gentle invitations and suggestions for bringing more peace into your life as well as links to some other peace related sites on the web you may find interesting. You are welcome!
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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

One warm and breezy Summer's Day we went for a ride on a sailboat on an upstate New York lake. The wind filled the huge sails and the boat sliced through the dark green waters at speeds one rarely connects with sailing. The crew worked without ceasing to keep the boat on course and we worked hard not to slide overboard. The sun shone high above and a clear sky dotted with small white clouds completed the scene.
Smooth sailing this was not. The idyllic picture of a lazy day and our boat drifting along was nowhere to be found. Sailing often requires stamina, skill, strength and agility. Even going along for the ride that Summer's day required some degree of physical acumen. Sailing that day was energizing, in fact, as well as demanding.
Peace work is not unlike sailing. All is not calm, comforting and easy; in fact it rarely is so. Peace work requires stamina, skill, strength and agility in communications, in analysis and in vision. The waters are not calm and the breezes sometimes seem more stormy than refreshing. Peace work requires a crew working together. Cooperation is critical.
Working for peace can, nonetheless, be energizing when we join with others who are committed to it, and when we make even some small progress.
Expect some turbulent waters. Rise to the occasion with others. Pull together and hoist the sails. The work of those who have gone before us pulls us along. 
Peace to you this day. Peace.
9:23 pm edt 

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Button
For many years while working at a 9-5 job, we kept a small yellow button with a favorite phrase on it. The phrase is "Don't Let Reality Spoil Your Dreams." How many times we are in need of that reminder.
Reality is shaped by dreams. Were it not for dreams we would have no cars, no electricity, no anything; nothing. We would still be in caves, or up trees. Reality is the result of dreams and hard work. Dreams point out the direction in which to go; reality does not in itself define us or our future.
Dreams and visions are the vital possibilities which stir within our hearts and minds, and call forth our commitments and efforts to construct a different and new reality. Possibilities live in hopes, wishes, desires, and dreams. Reality too often shoots dreams down. Reality is a result, not a goal.
"Get real," we admonish ourselves and others cynically. That's a dead end for enthusiasm and energy, so be careful when you hear yourself thinking or saying it to yourself or others. Better to encourage "Go for it!" when you find yourself developing energy and enthusiasm or hear it in others' voices. Don't let reality spoil your dreams.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
2:41 pm edt 

Friday, May 27, 2005

Time After Time
Do you have a datebook or schedule that you fill with appointments, things to do, plans,meetings and so forth? The producers of datebooks must be doing well financially. The variety and types of datebooks available indicates that sales are very good for them. During any given day you could probably see ten or more if you are in meetings with others.
Our datebooks have become our life records, and what we put in them seems to demonstrate (justify?) our accomplishments and aspirations. Our palm pilots pick up where the datebooks leave off. Schedules remind us where to be and when.
We are very busy people. We do a lot.
There is another way of life beyond doing which is perhaps even more important but rarely (if ever) makes it on our list of things to do.
What if we wrote on our calendar each day that we should, for a period of time, just Be.
Being is awareness of what is going on rather than making or doing. Just taking time to notice being makes space for our own being and the being-ness of life. Just be. No need to accomplish anything or meet any deadlines. In fact, just being is a lifeline; an opportunity to experience the stillpoint of life; your life.
Put Just Be on your calendar every day. Close your datebook and allow a place for time after your lists, schedules, plans, and aspirations. Time after time.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
8:04 am edt 

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Picture This
Photography is a good way to practice seeing things in a different and more concentrated framework.
Years ago there was a photographic essay entitled The Family of Man which became a best seller for several years. Photographs of people in all stages and conditions of life in many different countries and ways of living were interspersed with thoughtful quotations, giving the reader a sense of the richness and depth of the human experience on the earth. A quiet invitation to thoughtfulness and appreciation were presented. The world was both smaller and larger than one may have thought. While all of the photography was in black and white, the effect was both poetic and provocative.
How long has it been since we have revisited the notion of human society as a family? The song of not too long ago, From A Distance,sung by Bette Middler touched on that notion.
"From a distance
We all look the same..."
A minister friend recently gave a children's sermon in which she invited each child to select a "Beanie Baby" from a basket...she asked the children what was the same about each...though each was different on the outside, some cats, others lambs, dogs, etc...each was the same on the inside, they agreed.  She asked them to remember that though we may all be different on the outside, we are all the same on the inside.
Can our imaginations and our hearts embrace that understanding again? As a human family we have much to learn from one another. We have much to celebrate and treasure. We have much to do.
From a distance, we all look the same. Picture that.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
11:06 am edt 

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Years ago we had the experience of being a member of an a capella (without instrumental accompaniment) choir. The leader and conductor of the choir was clear and certain about his standards.  His appreciation and dedication to his interpretation and presentation of the works he selected for performance was paramount. The director made the choir's presentations vibrant and stirring, and he inspired and insisted that each singer rise to the same level of presentation for which he himself aimed. He was a true inspiration; a true maestro.
An a capella choir invites and involves a quality of attention and listening on the part of the audience that engages it more fully. There is a better sense of the human voice and its ranges of tone and color, and, a better sense of silence, when  sound ceases. You somehow hear more thoughtfully and more sensitively when you listen to an a capella presentation. The human voice is more fully heard and appreciated when it is heard without accompaniment.
This choir ended every concert with one traditional blessing to and for the audience. The Lutkin Benediction's lyrics are:
"The Lord Bless you and keep you,
The Lord make his face to shine upon you,
The Lord Be Gracious Unto You,
And Give you peace."
The human voice. The sound of silence.
Peace to you this day.
8:39 am edt 

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Once in Awhile
Once in awhile,
Take time to notice your breath and acknowledge
the steady rhythmic beating of
your heart;
Once in awhile,
Stop and really see what is outside your kitchen or bedroom
window--and notice the way  sunlight touches the trees;
Once in awhile,
Call a friend you haven't talked with for some time--renew your connection;
Once in awhile,
Notice what you haven't been noticing...
A change gradually occurring
for the better--just one;
Once in awhile,
be still and listen to the sounds of
small birds chirping--day sounds; night sounds;
Once in awhile,
Speak your mind and make
a difference ...write a letter,
a story, a book;
Once in awhile,
know that at any given moment and time...
Peace is within you.
10:32 am edt 

Monday, May 23, 2005

Waterfall Walk
In and around Ithaca, New York you can see many bumper stickers which declare, Ithaca is Gorges. Ithaca is filled with gorges created by glaciers which moved through the area millions of years ago. The gorges left in the wake of these ice flows are graced by the presence of  magnificent waterfalls of many heights and shapes. Walking far upstream along the banks of broad streams or through the streams themselves you finally come to their source,the waterfall. At the base of the waterfall, negative ions abound as you look up and enjoy the deep roar of thousands of gallons of water as they pour over steep cliffs. Sit on a nearby rock and soak in the refreshing spray of cold, clear energy.
Pools of icy cold water formed below are inviting to swimmers seeking a bracing and rejuvenating dip. Sounds of laughter echo up the walls of the cliffsides. Birds dip down and skim the water's surface. The depth of a refreshing moment cleanses and restores one's energy. Listen to the roar and sounds of life.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
8:02 am edt 

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Above the Clouds
Flying can be a beautiful experience. There are more qualified commercial pilots than there are jobs for them, no doubt, because so many enjoy flying even if the prospects for their employment are now more limited. Flying takes us up above the world and, for a period of time, removes us from the cares and realities we deal with on a daily basis. There is something beautiful about lifting above the weather down below and seeing the layers of white soft clouds on which the plane seems to coast. The sun brightly shines up here, and the silence is like no other. We may be mesmerized by the gentle beauty and timelessness of the world above our own. We live in a different realm when we fly. The freedom, the beauty and the silence whisper invitations of engagement and enjoyment of the experience to our hearts and spirits.
Some years ago we took a flight in a small plane over a valley and canyon in Korea. The pilots were playful and enthusiastic to demonstrate the versatility of the plane, and they rolled and turned it upside down as  it soared high above the land below. There was a sense of exhilaration at what was possible up here. The sense of playfulness and freedom must have been like that of dolphins as they play in open waters of the ocean.
As the journey ended, we accepted the invitation to land the plane ourselves, and were surprised that as we came in the engines were cut and we drifted down quietly and gently over hills, treetops and scenery we were now also a part of . Silently we drifted, quietly returning to terra firma, now aware of the possibilities of experiencing freedom and beauty above it all.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
7:25 am edt 

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Planting Posies
A friend asked for some help planting some flowers into boxes on her deck. She wanted to attract hummingbirds, which like bright red and colorful flowers. These tiny, magnificent creatures can sometimes be heard by the whirring of their wings before they are seen.
Some years ago while on vacation in Maine we were sitting out on the deck of a cabin when we heard a thump and a tiny moan...turning to look in the direction of the cabin's wall, we saw that a small green and violet hummer had crashed into it . There it lay motionless on the floor of the deck.
We quickly found a large leaf from a nearby tree and moved the tiny body on to it. We gently but quickly carried the leaf- stretcher to a small birch tree and placed it on a low secure branch. We let the little being rest in hopes s/he might "make it."
Perhaps half an hour later we heard the whirr of tiny wings and saw the small hummer zooming upward toward the tops of the trees. S/he had "made it." S/he had rebounded from the event with only a small bit of assistance from us.
Now we plant hanging baskets of petunias, hoping to be graced by one of these gentle beings again one fine Summer's day. May you be so graced as well.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
10:59 pm edt 

Monday, May 16, 2005

By A Stream In the Woods
Imagine what it would be like to spend an entire day sitting on the bank of a stream on a warm Summer's day. The sounds of water dancing over rocks and rushing over small natural dams and fallen trees contains more healing music than any CD or tape could ever hold.
Watch attentively. The sight and sound of Blue Herons moving gracefully above and from tree to tree, then walking the stream in search of small fish is enough company to keep on a day like this.
Sundown comes and light shifts as crickets come out and the first lightening bug of the season appears and floats by signaling her presence with a small,  warm, yellow flickering light. Solitude welcomes your awareness and thanks you for joining the present moment.
Night falls, and the bright clear full moon rises high in the Summer starlit sky, casting its reflection down across the rippling waters. Wait here for awhile and feel the air as it begins to become a bit chilly. Stay as long as you like. You are welcome.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
11:04 pm edt 

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Making Do
There is an expressing that "less is more." Vietnamese and Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Han tells a story about a wealthy man who had many cows. The monks in a nearby village knew this man and knew those in his community who envied him his wealth and many cows. The cows required a great deal of work on the man's part, but they also made him the richest man in the county.
No doubt some of the monks also perhaps thought that the man had everything, and perhaps also envied his life and even his wealth. One day, the cows got out of their pasture and the man --in great distress--had to spend much of his time rounding them up and bringing them back to the pasture. Some of the cows could not be found. The man was in a lot of  turmoil and suffered greatly at his loss.
Watching all of this from a distance, the senior monk noted the situation to his students, "Monks," he said gently, "be grateful you do not have any cows."
Consider your own situation. Making do with what you have can be a treasure. Less can be more.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
3:55 pm edt 

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Trees of Life
Have you ever thought about the trees in your life? Were there trees outside your bedroom window when you were young? As you walked or rode to school, did you pass trees? Do you remember climbing an old apple or other tree and enjoying the view from a low limb? What impression and memory do you have of the trees of your past? Where are the trees of your present life? Have you noticed them?
A therapist we know once shared that she loved trees, and even did hug them from time to time. She added that when you hug a tree, you get something back. An interesting and thought-provoking comment, to be sure.
In Qi Gong, the cultivation of personal energy, trees are highly regarded for their stability, groundedness and strength. Their energy is seen as particularly beneficial.(Perhaps there is something to our therapist friend's observation.)
The cultivation of small Bonsai trees adds to an engagement with and enjoyment of the beauty trees bring to our homes. There are many places to find Bonsai trees on line and through greenhouses.
Consider the trees of your life and appreciate and be grateful for the memories you have of them. Recognize them for their presence and the pleasures they have brought to your and all of our lives. Trees give if we are able to receive. We owe them respect and gratitude for their many gifts. And then there are the forests...
Peace to you this day. Peace.
7:40 am edt 

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Listen to the Wind
Winds bring change. Winds push out stagnant and settled air and allows new and dominant fronts to emerge. Winds blow into our lives with the loss of old friendships, relationships, and attitudes. Change blows us in the direction of the future and we must allow it to move us along. There is no sense in resisting change. Change is the only permanence in this life.
Thornton Burgess was a writer of children's books where he lived in Sandwich, Massachusetts. There is a museum in his honor in that New England Cape Cod town, and a community of dedicated environmental educators keep his books and his interest in nature alive there. One series of books Burgess wrote was The Old Mother West Wind collection. Old Mother West Wind was as much a character as were Reddy Fox, Brer Bear, Unc' Billy Possum, Paddy the Beaver and Sammy Jay.
Burgess' stories are gentle invitations to appreciate and respect nature and the nature of life as change itself. There is a deep theme of peacefulness that runs through all of his books, though the stories are realistic and true to the animals portrayed. They are engaging for children and adults alike. They teach us about the nature of life, and provide a connection to and appreciation for the natural world we are a part of. Old Mother West Wind blows through our lives and our world moving us on toward something new; something fresh.
"May the road rise up to meet you,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
May the sun shine gently upon you
May the wind be always at your back,
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of the hands of love."
Peace to you this day. Peace.
8:03 pm edt 

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Sense of Security
A sense of security is found within. It is not to be found in a sizeable amount of wealth, possessions or other external accumulations. A sense of security comes from the creation and cultivation of a sense of peace within you. Though challenges and stresses arrive and are part of the process of life, from a sense of security one can observe the changes and movements, the obstacles and barriers, with an actual understanding and respect for the opportunities they may bring. It is a choice of  focusing on frustration and anger or moving ahead with the work to be done.
The Chinese character for Crisis also stands for Opportunity. A crisis is an opportunity to see more; shift perception and understanding and to follow the flow (or seeming lack of it) of life. While nothing seems to be happening, "nothing never happens." It is a matter of recognition.
A sense of security from within provides the foundation for your day, your work and your life. The survivors of the Asian Tsunami have been rebuilding their lives knowing that life is not predictable or manageable, but demonstrating that it also ever emerges from what has been taken away. They rebuild from a sense of internal determination and security in the  hope and faith that their lives can be recreated and their community restored. From that place of internal determination they teach us all how to go on in spite of external challenges and conditions. They show us that the sense of security comes from within.
Peace to them and to you this day. Peace.
7:35 am edt 

Monday, May 9, 2005

Open Door
To invite peace into a moment, a situation, or a confrontation, there must be an open door. There must be the possibility of something other than what is going on at that moment, in that situation or that confrontation. Even opening the door to the possibility of something different requires imagination, courage and something more that what is the usual, or historic, standard response. Peace cannot enter where there is no openness.
Openness is the possibility for change and it brightens the landscape it sets upon. Openness lifts those in the situation to a higher plane of possibility and invites them to consider options beyond the traditional responses. Openness brightens the present as well as the future with its rays of hope. It lifts the veil of dismay and frustration and the sense of vexation and antagonism.
Where are the doors you are challenged to open today? Are they within your mind? Your heart? Your work environment? Your family life?When a door opens, even a crack, a little light and a gentle breeze pass by. A little openness allows a little transformation to enter you, your situation, and your reality. Openness shifts the energy.
Open a door just a crack today. Let some transformation;some hope pass through.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
7:41 am edt 

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

For years there has been a group called The Fellowship of Reconciliation. Reconciliation is the business we can and may all work for and toward in our personal and professional lives. Reconciliation is renewing connections and ties with those from whom we are estranged for one reason or another.
Reconciliation requires humility, forgiveness, and a willingness to release the old burdens of anger, guilt and accusation. We become reconcilers when we recognize our own responsibility in what contributed to a situation. Accepting that we were not entirely the "victim" or entirely the "villan" allows us to find some emotional space in which to consider the baggage we are carrying. Sometimes letting go means putting down the old baggage and being willing to start anew.
Reconciliation is not done in isolation. It requires reaching out and being open to possibility. You can carry the baggage all your life or you can become a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
8:03 am edt 

Monday, May 2, 2005

Silence is Golden
Some people cannot stand silence and have to keep background music, the radio or tv, or a a tape or CD going all the time. The music or the talk, or the sound gives them the sense that they are not alone. The sounds of life nurture and support their activity and their sense of themselves.
Some people cannot stand noise. They cannot sleep if the neighbors, those upstairs, or outside are having a party, playing music, honking horns or generally making a commotion.
What makes the difference between these people? Preference to be sure, but deeper than that, its their internal dialogue and their own comfort level with it. So do extraverts like external noise and introverts prefer silence? At times and not always, perhaps.
Silence presents pleasure or problem depending on your state of mind and your state of consciousness. If silence bothers you, ask yourself what you are uncomfortable about in it. If noise bothers you ask yourself why it irritates you. Silence presents you with a golden opportunity for looking more deeply at your own limitations and boundaries. These edges are the frontiers for personal growth. Like it or not, silence is a mirror requesting that you take a look at yourself.
Smile, and be kind to yourself.
Peace to you this day. Peace.
8:46 am edt 

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