Our family will visit the cemetery today. Someone from the American Legion will hand us poppies. The pastor will say a few words to those who’ve gathered.
And then, we will bow our heads for a moment of silence. No one will speak. The air will fill with birdsong and the sound of flags flapping in the breeze.
In that moment, I will pray as I always pray: for peace to rule in hearts everywhere.
That’s how I’ve celebrated Memorial Day since I was a kid – with a few moments in a cemetery, observing and remembering. Maybe your Memorial Day looks similar to mine. Or maybe you’ll spend your day at a lake, or a park, or around the grill in your backyard. Wherever you may be today, may your day be filled with peace. And may you find a way to share a bit of your peace with the people around you.
The world feels short on peace these days, doesn’t it?
Mother Teresa once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” I worry, sometimes, that we forget that we really are in this together. It’s a noisy, hectic, I’m-right-you’re-wrong world out there. Today, I want to make a special effort to be less concerned with making a point, and more concerned with making some peace.
If there really is going to be peace on earth, as the song says, “Let it begin with me.”
If there will be peace on Facebook,
or around the dinner table,
or in a sanctuary,
or out in this warring world,
or in a family squabble,
or in the midst of protest,
or on a lake,
or in some legislative chamber under a golden dome,
or in a world groaning under its own weight . . .
if there be peace here, or if there be peace anywhere on earth, then let it begin with me.
Here are six ways you can create peace in your life today:
Serve someone. There’s so much wrong in this world, which makes us angry and sad. As it should! One great way to bring more peace into the world, is to bring a little peace to someone whose life is in turmoil. That’s one powerful way of taking our anger, and turning it into a higher purpose. Find a person or organization near you who could use a bit of the love that you have within your heart.
Heal one piece of the wound within you. It’s hard to “pass the peace” when our insides are in turmoil. Take time this week to tend to your pain. It can feel overwhelming to think about fixing all that aches within you. If necessary, pick one piece, and tend to it. Take that bit of wound to a trusted friend. Pray about it with your pastor. Write it on a slip of paper and burn that paper in your own personal bonfire as way to say, “good riddance.” (Invite a friend and ask her to bring the marshmallows.)
Point out the good you see. Take a picture of something that made you smile, and post it to your social media channels. Of course, there is a time and place for us to use our social media platforms to point out injustice. But there is also a time and place for us amplify the good. Go, therefore, and show us your kittens, sunsets, and cute babies.
Resolve at least one conflict in your life this week. There’s someone who has gotten on your last nerve, or who has stepped on your toes in a major way. The elephant is still in the room. Talk about that elephant, release it into the wild, and then move within that freed-up space toward a resolution.
Forgive someone. Nelson Mandela famously said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” You don’t have to forget, but when you choose to forgive, you have decided to stop drinking the poison.
Find inner peace. There are a lot of places one can go to find peace – a hiking trail, a sanctuary, a resort in Tahiti. But ultimately, the only way we’ll find true peace is when we look to Jesus.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. (Colossians 3:15)
~ Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of The Happiness Dare