December 21, 2011

What does Peace mean to you?


‘Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, Hear the Angels sing Amen, Praising God the Father for His Love.’

Peace; an attainment, an ideal – to be pursued but never attained?

Everywhere we look, we see a quest for peace – of mind, of spirit and in the world.

How do we know when we’ve found it?

For me, its beauty lies in its profound subtleties.  At this time of year, in my homeland Jamaica, its first indication comes in the way of what we call Christmas breeze, a gentle, seductive, crisp wind that presents itself early mornings and evenings too. There is something deeply comforting about these winds – they bring along with them a sense of calm to an otherwise boisterous country.

Peace met me, quite unexpectedly around early November, accompanied by my own internal breeze that swept away all that which was creating turbulence within. I realized this as I found myself spontaneously skipping along the beach one afternoon. Caught in the act, I threw my head back and giggled like the 10-year old who had just un-wrapped her gift only to discover that her wish had indeed been granted.

Since that day, I’ve enjoyed and relished in a sense of freedom that only inner peace can bring. 

Nowadays, I humbly marvel at how much my outlook on life has transformed itself. And on days when I may experience the occasional relapse, I’m able to wheel and come again – Jamaican parlance for to come full circle – quickly!    

Permit me to share a seemingly silly example of this with you. On a recent business flight, I got on board the plane only to discover that all of the overhead bins had been stuffed by passengers who had boarded the flight earlier. Being a VFF, aka very frequent flyer, rarely do I check luggage.  So when the charming flight attendant suggested that I check my bag into the baggage hold, I flatly refused. I pointed out to him that other passengers had been allowed to occupy the space that ought to be reserved for those who have purchased their tickets at premium cost.      

This privilege, on that I am deeply grateful for, is especially welcome when traveling throughout Africa where getting from point A to point B is almost always never straight-forward and involves extended periods of time hanging around packed, noisy, hot and uncomfortable airports. On this latest venture, it took me a grand total of 14 hours to finally arrive at my destination; having gone west to come far east to then return east again! This criss-cross approach to air travel is due to limited flight schedules and availability across the continent.

As I observed myself spiral into the neurotic Type A stressed traveler frenzy, the fact that I was aware of my exhaustion didn’t prevent me from unleashing vivid frustration.  However just as I was about to enter into the vortexes of victimhood, thankfully, balance and sanity returned to save me from myself.  Knowing how much I resent this archetype, I literally observed my higher being self-relinquish my ego self from becoming embroiled in a futile battle.  The space was full, there was ample leg room where I could store my bag containing my yoga mat; it was like, ‘Nadine, show me some peace!’  Who knows maybe that voice of wisdom emerged from that very mat!

I share this ordinary incident with you to illustrate how continued learning is available to us in each and every moment of each and every day.

When I lived in Sudan a few years ago, I recall a friend of mine there saying to me, “Africa teaches you patience.”  With time and experience, I’ve come to understand what he meant.  To expound upon this, I add, with patience comes acceptance.  And acceptance gives rise to freedom; the foundation upon which peace is built.

As America withdraws its final troops from Iraq for example, does this act mark the attainment of peace – finally?  And if so, for whom?  Presumably for the families and loved ones of these service men and women who have served their country ideally in the name of peace, even though we know that war can never bring forth peace; certainly not without a fair share of strife and reconciliation.

As our holiday season fast approaches and regardless of what you may choose [or not] to celebrate, let us gift ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, our families and especially our world, with PEACE. 

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow(1807-1882), 1867

 I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along the unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:

“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

“For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing singing, on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,

Of peace on earth, good will to men!


When there is peace within, so too shall there be peace on Earth.



Read 3 Comments and Reply

Read 3 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Nadine McNeil  |  Contribution: 7,500