Bringing Peace

If we have the will and determination
to mount such a peace offensive,
we will unlock hitherto tightly sealed doors of hope
and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism.

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

"When Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the above words in 1967, he was referring to the nuclear arms race and the 'discords of war.' King was convinced that our energy ought to be focused on working for 'peace and prosperity' for all nations, rather than on waging combat. While his words are fittingly directed toward massive wars between nations, his message applies equally to the warfare that goes on within the human heart and personal relationships.

"I am convinced that peace among nations will not happen until there is true peace within the hearts of individuals. Within my own life a stronger peace has gradually taken root, mostly due to my commitment to daily, personal meditation. When I open the door of my heart and spend time with the Holy One, I become aware of what thwarts my effort to be peaceful. If I tend to the source of the distress, this, in turn, leads me to greater serenity. Then, when I move beyond the door of my heart into the wider world, this embraced peace accompanies me. Unless I deliberately choose to turn away from inner harmony, I can count on it to bless the people and the work of my life.

"Becoming aware of my inner conflicts sometimes occasions a brutal recognition and uncompromising verdict of needing to change my ways. Learning about peace is one thing. Putting peace into practice by changing attitudes and actions is quite another. If unrest, nonforgiveness, dissension, apathy, or discontent reside in me, the scent of this will be on each breath I take. Discordance will contaminate each part of my life.

"Here is what I suggest in order for peace to abide in our hearts and in our world:

• "Place merciful peace on our lips when words of prejudice, gossip, shame, and blame are eager to be there.

• "Draw forth humility from our heart when our ego seeks to triumph over and trounce the victims of our self-righteous superiority.

• "Voice open, non-defensive dialogue when the loud anger and unfair accusations of others attempt to topple us with their ferocity.

• "Work nonviolently for the active pursuit of peace when others opt for waging the aggression of war.

• "Set to rest what screams for revenge. Bid farewell to what drains away kindness. Ease our old grudges, remnants of resentment, and any remainders of jealousy.

• "Sift through the rubble of former battles with anyone. Sort out and discard the decomposed rot. Find what is salvageable. Save what benefits a growthful love.

• "Resist attempts to mend what is beyond repair. Let go of what was but can be no more. Move on without reluctance or self doubt.

• "Free what trembles with fear. Embrace what longs for acceptance. Forego anxiety and worry, which steal peace from the soul and add to inner turbulence.

• "Resist the desire to grasp. Have only what is essential for life.

"Today, bring peace with you to every creature, to solitary corners and crowded streets, to each hostility and every anxiety. Most of all, embrace confidently the bountiful peace of Indwelling Love so your presence in the world becomes one of healing tranquility.

Reflect on the Following:
"Does something need to change within your heart and life in order for you to bring more peace into the world?

"Begin by going within to where the Holy One is the deep source of your serenity. Sense an easy flowing peace moving through your body and soul. Open the door of your heart and let this peace move outward to wherever you will be today. Visualize tranquility emitting from the pores of your body, mind, and spirit. Notice how this peace stretches beyond you and permeates all it couches. Return now to your heart-space. Remain in the serene awareness of God's presence until it is time for you to close your prayer. Go forth to make a difference in the world.

"Divine Peace-Bringer,
take what is jagged in my relationships
and transform it with your grace.
I will do my best to bid farewell
to whatever keeps me from inner peace.
Help me bring your enduring harmony
into every part of my existence.
I open the door of my heart to you.
I open the door.

Scripture to Carry in Your Heart Today:
Do not let your hearts be troubled (Jn 14:1)."