While violence of many kinds can feel like a normal part of this human existence, these days of war we live in serve as a tragic reminder of the extreme violence humans are capable of. The second advent candle represents Peace, which feels especially needed this year.
Advent is a practice that helps us mark this season of waiting, helps us to understand that all we are waiting for is already being cultivated within us. Are we living in a way that cultivates peace? What would it mean to do that?
The great prophets of our world say that peace is cultivated through justice. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, and frankly, many others have proclaimed a version of the following statement:
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
So many of us are engaged in the work of making justice real in our communities and our world. I appreciate bringing peace into the equation because it reminds us that justice is not the same as punishment or retribution. Justice is about restoration of harmony, making real a Beloved Community where “all souls are welcomed as blessings and the human family lives whole and reconciled.”
Where are you helping to welcome others as blessings? Where in your life do you feel whole?
Yes, we live in days that need large social movements for peace. We need an anti-war message to reach our politicians. We need the work of advocates committed to reducing gun violence. We need to reform our justice system in ways that interrupt cycles of violence it currently perpetuates. We need to end and transform death dealing systems that shape our culture.
And, we can look inward too, and see the peace we are working to cultivate within ourselves. For this work, I always turn to the Buddhist masters. Pema Chödrön writes:
“If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That is the true practice of peace.”
In this season of turning inward, I hope you can take responsibility for peace within. Our community is a space where we hope it is safe to soften what is rigid in our hearts, and where we hope we can be courageous enough to do so. Let us be heartened that we have one another to share in these practices of peace.