I was telling a customer about my blog and told him the title, “Resistance, peace and love.”
His six-year-old daughter, standing directly in front of me, had been listening intently to the whole conversation. She said, “I wrote, ‘Everything is peaceful as long as you love.'”
Her dad could see how blown-away I was. “Yep. She wrote it right before the election. I have it on my desk.”
I use the words peace and love in my blog title – what do I mean by them? Since I put them in the title, I’m indicating that I’ll be working this terrain as long as I write the blog – but here are some passes at it.
- The monks in their monasteries create peace on the planet by meditating, thinking peaceful thoughts, living peaceful lives. I really do believe this – if it wasn’t for them, we might have blown ourselves up already.
- My friend Sally didn’t want to come to my support group meeting because I announced the topic as “What to do in the age of Trump?” It just upsets her too much to talk about him. She is determined to keep a peaceful consciousness – is she like the monks in their monasteries?
- My work friend Joan has unplugged her Facebook account because all the political talk there was too disturbing to her. She is a deeply sensitive artist. Is it maybe her duty to the world to protect herself from stimuli that are going to hurt her?
- I have friends who are angry at people who didn’t vote in the last election. Is the anger part of the problem? Do we need to find non-angry ways to influence people to vote?
- Thich Nhat Hanh’s Buddhist order practices “engaged Buddhism” – they directly intervene in the way of violence.
- Martin Luther King and Rev. William Barber led marches of civil disobedience, where they intentionally broke the law to expose a wrongful law.
- I just went through a four-hour training (a pittance) on civil disobedience – where some people knew at the start that they are ready to get arrested, some knew that they could not afford (for all manner of good reasons) to get arrested, and others like myself were in a process of discernment about whether we are ready to get arrested. I honestly feel almost sure that I’m going to get arrested this year, but don’t logically understand why i think this and want to approach it thoughtfully.
Sometimes, behind my cash register, I feel like I am called to directly intervene in the direction of greater peace for a customer. I may not even know from where is coming the impulse, but I trust it.
Today I had in front of me a young mom who was clearly at her wit’s end. She had a maybe ten year old son down at the foot of aisle, leaning on her shopping cart – seeming to be very resentful. She had a three-year old son who was running around making noise – yet still seemed to be very clearly a special kid.
I watched her somewhat rough attempts to quiet him and then finally, spontaneously and warmly said, “That little boy has a very bright light around him.”
This seemed to take her aback and she said, “Right now he’s really misbehaving.”
“I know, he sometimes is going to be difficult, but he’s a real special kid.”
Then I looked her straight in the eye and said, “And you are doing something very right with him.” This last line really seemed to reach her. She seemed to soften and I thought she might cry. I think she felt seen, understood.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a young woman in front of me who seemed really tense, really down. I didn’t know as I was speaking it where this was coming from, but what came out was, “You are a deeply creative, artistic spirit. This kind of depth is not always comfortable and you may even suffer from it. But you are on the right track and it’s going to get easier.” Her eyes got bright and I was really glad I had spoken.
This morning a woman who came through my line said, “Several months ago, I came through your line right after getting some bad medical news. You looked me straight in the eye and said ‘This is all going to work out.’ You really set my mind at ease – you were an angel for me. And it has worked out.” How did I know that things were going to work out medically for her? I feel sure that I would not have said it if I didn’t feel sure of it.
The other day, based on very little data, I said to a couple, “You two are really good together. You put out a great vibe. It makes me happy to be around you.” There are so many factors in this society that make it hard for a couple to stay together. They may not have a lot of cheerleaders for their relationship. I don’t know really what moves me to say stuff like this to a couple, but it feels like a calling.
I don’t know where these words are coming from, but I trust them. There’s the risk of this being intrusive. Certainly I have not contracted with the person for the right to deal with them so directly. I seem to be finding a voice that I had not known before. It’s a gift to me – and a gift I am meant to share with others.