The gift of peace
Pourquoi, I hear you ask? Or perhaps you are not asking but nodding sagely, for you, my friend, already know. That's right. It's just all a bit MUCH.
The days are short, the nights are long, the presents are many, the hours are few, inevitably some things go wrong and there's altogether too much to do. Dr Seuss, we've got this rhyming malarkey down, but some of us are feeling a bit Grinchy.
My mum used to tell me, don't let anyone steal your peace. I found this soothing because a) it made me feel that peace was something I was meant to possess, and b) it reminded me that peace relies on people choosing it. As in, circumstances aside, I could still experience peace, but on the flip side I could let it be taken or I could lose it.
That last bit isn't so soothing, but it does make sense to me. I can think of plenty of times my peace has gone missing. Peace is harmony? I've picked arguments. Peace is reconciliation? I've held grudges. Peace is tranquillity? I've let the noise of life drown it out.
Around Christmas, I mostly lose my peace over silly expectations I have for myself like the perfect decorations and remembering to write and mail 50 cards and not forgetting any presents and blah blah perfect roast dinner blah blah oh my god where are the crackers blah blah glitter explosion. It's exhausting! And it's unnecessary. And I catch myself in the middle of it all, panicking, wondering where my peace went.
So I have to go looking for it again. I look in solitary woodland walks; I look in a deep breath and a cup of tea; I look in the remembrance of what actually matters about Christmas, underneath all of this festive glitz and guilt. I find it in the joy of my sprawling octopus of a family, in the embrace of friends, in the still small voice that tells me I am not alone.
This year, I've bought some gifts and cards and I'll try to be good company, but the best I could hope for anyone to find at Christmas, or anytime, is peace. God knows we need it.
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!
And 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!
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!
Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent The hearth-stones of a continent, And made forlorn The households born 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."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash