There has been much concern and conversation about the divisiveness and decline of civil discourse as the nation transitions to a new administration. I understand. But a few weeks ago I sang in the celebration choir for Sis. Emma Ridley’s 99th birthday. I’ve known Sis. Ridley all my life. We have so many very old people in our congregation that we only announce birthdays when folks are 90 or older. There are so many things I have learned from growing up in the midst of very old black people, people who knew my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot of things at Columbus School for Girls and Wellesley College and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. But truthfully, as I watch and listen to the reeling anxiety and antagonistic, bullying vitriol in the public square these days I am increasingly thankful for the lessons I learned from generations of black women in my church. These are women who have born burdens many people cannot imagine, burdens often heaped upon them by their “fellow Americans” and they bore those burdens while managing lifelong marriages, raising children, maintaining households, cooking meals, working outside the home and being stalwarts in the church. I watch these women, my 86 year-old mother among them and think, hmmm….what’s the deal? There are multiple components of the benefits of community worth examining and I plan to write about them separately over time, but for now I want to share some tips about peace on a family, micro-level plane.
These steps need no collective consensus, no community commitment, no governmental involvement-and no money. These are steps to be taken privately in our individual homes, but with consistency their impact will be felt across the country and around the world. Only when we have peace in our homes can we hope to experience “peace in our time.” The maxim “Think globally, act locally” has never been more relevant.
1. Pray for Peace. I commit to pray daily for peace within my family.
2. Submit to Peace. I commit to submit myself, my ego and my will to the greater good, the quest for peace in my family.
3. Listen for Peace. I commit to actively listen for peace so that the people in my family know they are not just loved but also heard and understood.
4. Speak Peace. I commit to speak peace to and about my family now and in the future. The power of death and life is indeed in the tongue and I will speak even those things which are not as though they were .
5. Intercede for Peace. I commit to intercede for peace in conflicts between people in my family. No one should be more committed to peace in my family than I; not neighbors, not teachers, not counselors, not social workers, not the police-no one.
6. Patience for Peace. I commit to develop a practice of patience with others as part of the practice of peace in my family. I will let patience have her perfect work.
7. Shepherd for Peace. I commit to discipline the children in my family in the spirit of peace as a good shepherd, and not in the spirit of anger, fear, frustration or violence. My rod and my staff shall be their comforting guide and direction.
8. Model for Peace. I commit to model peace in my conversations with my spouse. Our children will see and learn the beauty inherent in the practice of peace as the foundation for loving, intimate relationships.
9. Atmosphere of Peace. I commit to create an environment in our home where the atmosphere is suffused with the spirit of peace. All who enter our home will feel and be covered by that peace.
10. Rest for Peace. I commit to helping all the members of my family get the rest they need to be at peace. Chronic fatigue is the enemy of peace.
11. Nutrition for Peace. I commit to providing live, nutritious food for my family, served in loving, peaceful communion with them. Jesus provided far more meals than praise and worship services!
12. Beauty for Peace. I commit to investing more time in the peace and beauty of our home than in the beauty and adornment of my flesh. True, lasting beauty abounds in the presence of peace.
13. Order for Peace. I commit to creating order in our home to ensure peace for our family. It has been said “Let all things be done in decency and in order”. Peace is difficult to maintain in the midst of chaos.
14. Quiet for Peace. I commit to creating a time of quiet for our family in our home. Intentional, mindful stillness and quiet are attributes of peace. Even 10 minutes of utter stillness is a blessing.
15. Meditation for Peace. I commit to a daily practice of focused and intentional meditation for peace. Visualize Peace.
16. Time for Peace. I commit to make time for peace within our family. I will be mindful of the idea of peace when arranging the activities, calendars and schedules of our family. Over-scheduled, over-extended people are rarely peaceful.
17. Balance for Peace. I commit to aid in the creation and maintenance of balance in our home. The practice of peace requires holistic balance between the spiritual, intellectual and physical dimensions of each member of our family. One cannot be both out of balance and at peace.
18. Acknowledgement for Peace. I commit to joyously acknowledge peace when I experience it in my family and delight when it is displayed in the world around me.
19. Recalibrate for Peace. I commit to be mindful and ready to recalibrate my attitude and my behavior for peace in my family and in our home. I will not be a stumbling block in the path of peace.
20. Prioritize Peace. I commit to doing the hard work of making the idea and the practice of peace priorities in my life and the lives of my family daily.
21. Study Peace. I commit to study the works and writings and images of peace. I commit to share the search for peace in the sacred writings of the Bible, the Koran and the Talmud along with the sacred texts of Hinduism and Buddhism with my family. I further commit to share the peace and beauty of the arts with my family.
As the song says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” I commit that peace will dwell in my household and all who emerge from it will be makers of peace. Selah!