Imagine the world without anger, without greed. We have the power, the tools, the skills and the resources right now to build a peaceful world, where people live in harmony with the Earth and each other. This blog explores ways we are doing just that, one post, one change, one day at a time. Join me. Tell your stories. Ask for help. Spread your ideas for making the vision real and, well, ordinary.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Standing for peace after Zap! Bam! Pow!

San Francisco City Hall
Our sixth stand for peace
© L Kathryn Grace - All rights reserved
Okay, it wasn't exactly Zap! Bam! Pow! We had words. Saturday, the last day of 2011, in our mini version of The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, Sharon and I  stood for peace in front of City Hall for the sixth week in a row. We'd had a rough morning.

The phone rang early--one of those calls that pushes buttons. "I can't talk about this now," she said. "I need to feel peaceful before our stand."

One of the things that makes our relationship work, always has, is our willingness to talk through whatever comes up.

My 7-year-old rears her rebellious head

It never fails to amaze me how quickly I can revert to a hurt seven year old mentality and want to lash out in anger and frustration. Sometimes I do.

Saturday morning, getting that phone call as we prepared for our stand, I felt the flush and rush of blood to my head. Not wanting to start something big, I chose my words carefully. Not carefully enough.

I wanted to take care of the issue right now. She wanted to wait. I get a strong physiological response when I feel I have to squelch feelings. I know very well what the term "my blood boiled" means. Sometimes I stomp around, muttering obscenities. Sometimes I remember in time, before I've said things I'll regret, to put certain coping mechanisms to use. It's a kind of litany.

Breathe again.
What am I feeling?
Mad? Okay. Yeah, I'm mad. Arrrrrggggghhhh.
What do I want to feel?
Calm. Peace.
What can I do about this?
Let answers come.
Urnnnggghhhh! Don't want to be adult and peaceful. Rrrggggg.
Still mad.
How is she feeling? Mm-hmmm. Okay. But what about ... ?

I love her.
How can I support her in this while acknowledging my own feelings? (Yeah, I tend to get cerebral.)


And so it goes. We've known each other for nearly a quarter century.. We know each other's patterns. We trust, each, the other to return and talk through whatever our issue, when the time is right. Saturday morning, we didn't have enough time. We left the house, shoulders a bit high, tension in our steps. Breathing.

Then there's 'righteous' anger

Street Person on a far warmer morning than last Saturday
Image Credit: Puravida
A morgueFile Free Photo
A few minutes later, we walked from the train, past far too many homeless people curled in their sleeping bags and blankets against the bitter cold, some up already, stamping their feet, hugging their sides.

I never walk past these folks without being aware how precarious our own financial situation, how easily we might find ourselves among them, should our economy take another protracted nose dive in 2012.

That morning, having breathed and calmed myself, having reached a state of equilibrium on the train, I felt anger seething under my skin again as I walked past an overturned wheelchair, it's occupant cocooned in a sleeping bag on the hard pavement, a small backpack at his feet.

How easily my anger bubbles, not only at home when triggered at just the wrong moment, but at injustice, the pervasive injustice that is homelessness, that is lack of medical care, that is hunger in the richest country in the world.

Walking past an upright, blanket-shrouded man, his face and hands black with street dirt, his eyes red and a little crazed, I recognized the faces I put on my anger. The Koch Brothers. Dick Cheney. The Bush family. Icons of the uber wealthy and the people who serve their purposes in Washington, D.C., our state capitols, San Francisco City Hall.

As we approached that gilded dome, once glowing, now fading to bird-streaked charcoal in this economy that fills the coffers of the rich while feeding and housing ever fewer, this faded poorly kept  monument to capitalism and tenacity, whose dome is the fifth largest in the world, taller than the US Capitol, I felt the anger I carry in my body, anger I face each day.

Being peace when I might choose rage

Every single day I struggle for balance between being the peace I want to see in the world and fuming  at one atrocity after another, at my failure to meet the need to find some way to mitigate and change the suffering caused by human greed and carelessness. Each day, throughout the day, I stop and breathe.

I have been here before, many times. I acknowledge these feelings. I fold my hands and bow to them. Namaste.

I ask for guidance, if only for the next step.

It works. On Saturday it worked. Peace entered my heart, a warmth starting at the core of my heart, and spreading outward.

Image Credit: Sharon L Richardson
From Re-Imagining Peace
All rights reserved - Used with permission
Breathing, I acknowledged again the anger, the suffering.
Breathing, I accepted what is.
Breathing, I knew there was--is--a better way.
Breathing, I asked for guidance.

Making peace

All the while, as we walked, we talked quietly of our altercation earlier and how our stand informs our responses and is informed by our feelings and actions. Breathing, I gave gratitude for this mini-eruption, this opportunity to practice our intention to bring peace into the world.

We do not stand for peace merely to make a visible, public stand. We stand for peace to change our own hearts.

Standing for peace is not only a ritual, it is a way of becoming peace.

We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.


Pat T. said...

I wish I could stand with you.
I know I do breathe with you.
Your words and your photographs help me stay centered. Thank you. Wishes for precious peaceful moments in 2012.

Wanda said...

Amen. Peace becomes a way of life. I know too well those feelings of "I want to talk about it NOW" and needing to find a way to find peace within. I hear your cries about the uber rich and the uber poor and know that I, too, am only a couple breaths away from being one of those on the sidewalk...under the bridge...walking the streets. And so I ease into my awareness for this year: EASE. Not EASY...just ease.

Pamela said...

Thanks for sharing so honestly. Great reminder that "peace begins with me." Lovely to read.

Sharon said...

Being peace. Finding peaceful solutions. Everyday I wake up thinking, "I will be peaceful today in all things." And then the day happens and Oops Bam Darn... I get irritated, my triggers get pulled, and I say and behave poorly. Still, I awake the next morning with the same thought, the same hope and intent. Always trying to make peace making a habit. That is the goal, isn't? Always keep at it... never stop... process, journey... that's the point... be mindful, stand up and try again. Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin again and again and again with me! said...

It's an ongoing, moment by moment choice to be peace. We're never done. There are always more triggers. More opportunities to practice. I especially hate when I'm triggered while trying to do something peaceful! Dammit, I'm meditating!

Post a Comment