One of the definitions of peace is the normal, non-warring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world. Just taking in those words makes my gut clench because my mind goes to the lack of peace in our world today.
You won’t hear me talk politics or religion. But none of us lives in a vacuum, and we have to acknowledge the effect the news has on us. It’s hard to feel peaceful.
To nurture myself at this time of year, I have to bring the concept of peace down to its simplest level. When I feel peaceful, there is an absence of disturbance, lack of stress—no stomach ache, no headache, no tears. I have to consciously set worry aside—this doesn’t come naturally. There is something about this time of year that brings my emotions to the surface. I cry more easily. I feel sad for the violent acts of some people in our country and the effects of war and discord in so many parts of the world. My heart aches for the street people who are homeless and mentally ill.
Along with gratitude for the peace and comfort in which I am fortunate enough to live, I feel a bit guilty. Within the physical peace, I have to give myself permission to feel inner peace, even if stolen for a few moments or a few hours. Am I entitled to feel peaceful when there is so much suffering? Shouldn’t I volunteer to be a Secret Santa before I can enjoy Christmas? At least I should help serve dinner at a shelter on Christmas Eve. I question my own entitlement.
Then I resolve to be more charitable all year long. Just as I believe mental illness is contagious, I also believe peace and tranquility are. I am serving my neighbor by being courteous on the road, by being polite in the grocery store, generous with my tip at a restaurant. We know one good deed begets another.
When I finish having this conversation with myself, organizing my thoughts a little better, I decide I have earned the right to be at peace without guilt.
I sincerely wish you peace; however you carve it out. Happy Holidays.