I live near the Pacific Ocean now. It is a long drive, through canyons and mountains, but luckily, Jack and I have found pockets of time on weekends to put our feet in the cold, mud-like winter sand, to immerse ourselves in salty air, to watch clear, frigid water pour over dark rocks and large clumps of seaweed washed up on the shore.
I have lived in many beautiful places – the lushest part of Ohio, between two mountain ranges in Vermont, the English countryside, Manhattan, to name a few. It is one of the biggest blessings of my life to have been steeped in so much beauty. Now, I live where fires can rage, where the earth could shake at any moment, where the temperatures rise and drop in the desert climate. Honestly, it can contribute to my anxiety.
But looking at the ocean, I see before me an example of the way I need to be – in flow, shifting, and yet at peace. I pray for peace often. It is one of the simplest yet most important refrains I whisper to myself.
I say: I pray for peace within my self. Peace within this home. Peace within my family. And peace throughout the world.
I contemplate these words when I blow out candles. When I wake up in the morning. Late at night when things in beautiful, bright, bustling Los Angeles, finally, feel quieted. When I can find the edges of my own thoughts.
Keeping the peace and true peace are distinct from one another, of course. Peace that freezes things in place and silences people is not really peace – it is suppression. True peace is liberation – freedom that makes flourishing for all possible.
Peace within ourselves, our birthright.
Peace within our homes, where many varieties of beautiful things can grow.
Peace within our families, given and chosen, where unconditional love can be shared.
Peace throughout the world, so that compassion permeates everything.