Peace in the Heart, Peace in the World.
On Saturday night we watched the River lights moving along the Moruya River. They were part of the celebration of Granite Town on the 90th Birthday of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Moving slowly and silently on the water they spoke wordlessly of calm, peace and of course light. Such a stark contrast to the violence in Ukraine. As we look on in horror at the atrocities committed against Ukrainian people we might well ask, how are we to live in this beautiful and broken world? How do we make sense of this contrast? And above all what do we do in a time such as this? It is simple enough to donate money to organisations such as Red Cross, to advocate that our government take more refugees. These actions are quite clear and good. But how are we to contribute to peace in the world?
The World Community for Christian Meditation will hold a global event on Saturday 26th March in solidarity with the Ukrainian community. The focus is ‘Peace in the Heart, Peace in the World’. As the title suggests there is a direct link between peace in our own hearts and peace in the world. Our inner and outer lives are profoundly connected. As we are so shall our world be. Seeds of violence in our own hearts are best nipped in the bud before they grow into missiles.
The river lights were moved by those who rowed the kayaks to which they were attached. The beauty of their silence was powered by the work of the rowers. Our work to recover peace in our hearts may come through the practice of silence in meditation or some other contemplative practice. Such a practice, or work, over a period of time, enables the ‘cleansing of the eye of the heart’. In this way we become more conscious of the way in which our own thoughts can become barbs directed at others. The heart healed of interior division and therefore propensity to violence will contribute to the same healing in the world. The whole-heartened see the world as whole, unbounded by the division of human conflict. Yes, we have boundaries that must be respected, as in the case of the Ukrainian borders. When we recognize those boundaries yet can reach across them with love rather than violence we are acting out of wholeness, whole-heartedness.
There will be many people around the world praying for peace. Meditation as a work of silence is a way of prayer that transforms our own violence such that we can be bearers of peace in this world. And perhaps, mysteriously, as we are healed, we might emit waves of peace that can have an effect across distance, across divisions. So may our own thoughts and prayers be of peace. As the old hymn and prayer of St Francis says, may we be channels of peace. Amen.
Linda Chapman is the founder of and primary inspiration behind Open Sanctuary