What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love & Understanding?

In this song, Elvis Costello laments the ‘darkness of insanity’ that surrounds us. Happily though, it seems that for an increasing number of us, peace is the main item on the menu nowadays.

The seeds that the hippies planted two generations ago are bearing fruit. Peace, love, and harmony, are once again becoming a central focus for different faiths around the world. We’re witnessing thousands of peace movements taking hold such as ‘Israel Loves Palestine’…

I’m reading a book by Amnesty International author James O’Dea, called ‘Cultivating Peace’. On my desk is also a book by Parker Palmer, ‘Healing the Heart of Democracy’. Two more books here are Jean Houston’s ‘Manual for the PeaceMaker’, and another one, which I’ll reveal at the end of this article. On the top of the pile is John O’Donohue’s book, ‘To bless the space between us’.

I opened the latter to page 97, a short blessing titled ‘To Come Home To Yourself’:

May all that is unforgiven in you

Be released.

May your fears yield

Their deepest tranquilities.

May all that is unlived in you

Blossom into a future

Graced with love.

John O’Donohue’s blessings instill a sense of peace. Even the book’s title refers to the space between us.

I’m fascinated with this concept of space as a clue to peace. We’re entering an era of dismantling the lies that we’ve been told about being separate from one another, and from ‘God’.

Another author who knows about the spaces between people and thoughts is Ekhart Tolle. Now that man emanates peace. Like other sages, Tolle equates inner peace with stillness. In A New Earth, he says: ‘Stillness is the language God speaks, and everything else is a bad translation.’ Peace is synonymous with tranquility, and the absence of violence. It also implies harmonious relationships, which again points us to the space in between people.

Collectively now, our senses can finally begin to perceive that we are all made of the same substance. To fully realize this, we have to go beyond our five senses. Reality becomes quite magical from this perspective. If we’re all made of the same life force, then we can’t separate ourselves from one another, or from ‘God’. From this vantage point, perhaps the idea of putting our trust in a greater will, intelligence, or love, as the purest roots of our religions and ancient cultures recommend, is not so foolish. Relying only on personal will means holding on, but life can’t be held onto… it is continuously flowing, evolving. What is required of us is that we let go… every day we must die a little.

Shalom, in Hebrew, means hello, goodbye, and God. Indeed, in many languages the word for peace is used as a greeting, as well as a farewell, like the Hawaiian word Aloha, and the Arabic word Salaam. In English, the word peace is occasionally used as a farewell, especially for the dead, as in the phrase ‘Rest In Peace’ (RIP), or as the song Silent Night goes: ‘Sleep in heavenly peace’.

If you read O’Donohue’s blessing quietly, you can touch the letting go that he suggests… Peace is what we find when we ‘release’, if we ‘yield’, allowing ‘grace’, ‘forgiveness’ and ‘tranquility’ to overtake us. He has said that a blessing is different from a poem. It’s like a wish from one eternal soul to the other. This is beautifully conveyed here: ‘May all that is unlived in you/ Blossom into a future…’ Perhaps our source of peace is our soul… Is this what the author means by the title, ‘To Come Home to Yourself’? Coincidentally, the other book from the pile on my desk, is Marianne Williamson’s ‘Healing the Soul of America’. In America, and in the rest of the world, it’s time to come Home to ourselves…

Catriona O’Curry is a consultant based in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, Bob. They like to travel to Seattle, B.C. and Europe in the summers when Arizona becomes a furnace!