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Tuesday, 22 September 2015 12:26

Am I a person of peace and harmony?

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peace posterWhen I reflect on the word 'peace' I think of silence, stillness and harmony. As a small child I learnt from my parents the meaning of silence, stillness and harmony with nature, writes Sister Helen Smith rsj.

My mother taught me how to sit quietly before the Blessed Sacrament while she prayed the “Thirty Days” prayer. She instilled in me a deep reverence for the sacramental presence of Jesus and so spending time before the Blessed Sacrament now gives me a great sense of peace, calm and inspiration.

My father had a great love of nature. We used to live in Scotland and on many a frosty night I walked the dogs with my father. From him I learnt the beauty of the night sky and the quiet of the night. When walking during the day we often gathered bluebells, ate wild strawberries, made daisy chains and stood before the rushing water. Dad believed in the chain of life and insisted that nothing should be killed, not even spiders.

Nature has always restored my spirit. To stand in the presence of the ancient mountains, in the quiet of the forest, before the vast ocean or to gaze at the wonder of the night sky, creates a sense of peace and heightened awareness in me. John O’Donohue states, “When your heart is confused or heavy, a day outside in nature’s quiet eternity restores your lost tranquillity.”

In the busy, noisy world of today, people are constantly pressured to meet deadlines. We are bombarded by the media which appears to focus on the sensational and negative events in every strata of human living. Many people suffer from stress and depression due to various factors. Some become impatient, aggressive and even violent, as evidenced in family violence, road rage, acts of terrorism and wars.

Living in this society impacts on everyone. It is hard to find peace and believe God is in the midst of it all. There is a deep need for silence and time to reflect in order to maintain balance and perspective. I am always consoled by the words of the psalm “Be still and know that I am God”.

As I look at the lives of others I am compelled to look at my own life. I find it challenging to question my own attitudes and behaviours. Am I a person of peace and harmony or do I create friction and division? Do I endeavour to live in harmony with all creation? As we look at the troubled areas of our world it seems hard to imagine world peace. We need time and quiet in order to reflect on who we are and why we are here. Without space and time for reflection we are swept into the rush of daily life. If we cannot live peacefully and harmoniously with people close to us, how can peace be achieved on a grand scale? I believe it must start with each individual person. This is the challenge for me.

Eternal Echoes
Psalm 46:10

(Featured image is taken from the UN poster for the 2015 International Day of Peace which was celebrated on 21 September 2015.) 

This article was first published in Edition 58 of the Mary MacKillop E-Newsletter (8 September 2015), the monthly electronic newsletter of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

Read more on peace building from resources on the 2015 International Day of Peace, celebrated on 21 September.