For my morning meditation I am using a lovely little book, Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom. The thoughts offered for reflection are her own words. They are beautiful, they are simple, and they are true, and they are terribly challenging. Mother Teresa was a prophet in the sense that by her very actions she challenged the world’s priorities, its political and spiritual leadership and individuals, especially those of us who are advantaged.
I am reading quotes by Mother Teresa that fall under the category of “Family Life”. A phrase that jumped out for me this morning was this: “…the breakdown of peace in the world begins at home.” She and Peace Pilgrim were contemporaries in this world. I don’t know if they knew of one another, but Peace had a similar message about peace. She taught that peace begins first within oneself. It then spreads outward into one’s family, into one’s circle of relationships, then further into one’s community, into the community of nation and further into the world. Unfortunately, we human beings, not wanting to admit our own brokenness and insecurities tend to look outside ourselves first for peace.
We try to control our families only to find out that we are each individuals with our own ways of seeing and we each have our own path in life that is God ordained. So we pass on our brokenness and it is carried out into the world as our members go out and work in the world, relate to others, live as citizens and form new families – a vicious circle of brokenness that is repeated again and again. The end only comes when someone in the cycle finally finds peace within.
Peace within means coming to terms with our own brokenness. We are all ego-centric in varying degrees. We all put on a face to the world that is not quite true. We all have fear and anxiety that drive the way we do our work in the world and the way we treat others. We are all guilty of hurting others out of our own need to control.
Once we face the truth about this broken self, we need to go on to forgive ourselves. Our brokenness, after all, is not unlike the brokenness that others experience in their lives. It makes us one, in a weird sort of way. As I forgive myself for being not perfect, the miracle happens…I can forgive those around me for not being perfect, for making mistakes, even for doing things that have hurt me personally. This is when we enter that second circle of peace, peace in our families. Jesus said that we must first love ourselves. I think this is what he was talking about. If I can love myself in spite of my being flawed, then I may be able to find it within myself to love those closest to me who I once blamed and accused for their flaws.
Peace Pilgrim suggests we go on, then to the larger circle of relationships and I suggest that this is the natural evolution of things. If peace takes root in us, we will naturally bring it into the broader world. Peace, nourished and fed within oneself, becomes our nature and goes with us wherever we go.
Someone said, “Be the peace that you seek.” Amen.