“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

How do we make peace? Is it even possible?

Woodrow Wilson seemed to think so. After WWI, he included a peace keeping organization, to be known as the League of Nations, in his 14 points. This visionary covenant, ratified by 42 countries with the exception of the United States, was designed to solve disputes and bring long-lasting peace to Europe.

Or how about Alfred Nobel, a “Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer.” One of five prizes established in his will, The Nobel Peace Prize has “been awarded annually (with some exceptions) to those who have ‘done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.’”

One name most notably absent from the long and distinguished list of winners is Eleanor Roosevelt who worked as Chairperson on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the United Nations, “an international organization committed to maintaining international peace.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a monumental document that testifies to the Oneness of all humanity and creation. I have included a link to it below.

According to the list of Peace Prize winners, the 20th century seems to have been and is filled with inspired and creative individuals and groups, seeking to make peace. Certainly, this kind of peacemaking is worthwhile and productive. After all, just as we can have useful and engaging beliefs, we can have useful and engaging ways of constructing or maintaining peace.

Because most of us humans identify with our mental constructs, feelings, emotions, sense perceptions, memories, etc., more generally called our beliefs, and because we also identify with all the ways we tend to organize and gather our beliefs into ideologies, groupings, tribes, nations, faiths, cultures, subcultures, systems, etc., etc. we tend to see different, unfamiliar and opposing beliefs as being a denial of each other’s very existence as identities, individuals, free persons, groupings, nations, etc.

And so, it could be said that peacemaking in the ways of this world as we humans have come to believe it to be, in this 21st century since Jesus’s birth, is about solving all the many conflicts, difficulties and problems that arise out of all our myriad and so very often differing beliefs.

In other words our ways of “making” peace have become more often than not about preventing or ending all our many perceived and imagined conflicts and differences in all their various ways of appearing, including but not limited to domination, subjugation, pillage and war, by building mostly static ideological (artificial) structures in the form of agreements, contracts and understandings (more beliefs) within what is always this fluid ever-changing reality that all life on earth actually shares.

Is this the kind of peacemaking to which Jesus was referring?

Between civil unrest, the pandemic and extreme political divisiveness, 2020 has not been a peaceful year. Even if you do not profess to be a Christian, it seems fitting to begin the new year meditating on peace.

In the Christian calendar, the new year begins on the first Sunday in December with the first four Sundays prior to Christmas known as the season of Advent. Advent in Latin means “coming”—a time during which Christians prepare for the coming of the Messiah’s birth. This is a spiritual preparation rather than a secular one, focusing on four themes—Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Many denominations of Christian faith practice the lighting of candles on an Advent wreath decorated with evergreen branches. Three of the four candles are purple or blue representing fasting and repentance. A fourth pink one symbolizes joy. Each Sunday, the candles are lit in succession culminating in the lighting of a fifth candle known as the Christ candle on Christmas Eve. This last candle is white expressing “purity, light, regeneration, and godliness.”

If you grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as I did, you probably watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. In it, a confused and befuddled Charlie Brown asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus replies, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” In the most innocent and sincerest voice, Linus quotes from the gospel of Luke chapter two:

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Verses 11-14

Just what sort of peace did the birth of the Christ child herald?

Following the verse that began this essay, Jesus goes on to say:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:9-12

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45

These verses make it seem like our peacekeeping efforts will likely be in vain.

On May 1, 1992, Rodney King said, “People, I just want to say, can’t we all get along? Can’t we all get along?”

Can we get along? I don’t know. From what I have seen on social media, the answer is no.

Notice Jesus doesn’t say there will be peace on earth or peace between humanity. In fact, the verses from Mathew quoted above suggest that when you try to make peace, you will be persecuted and reviled; just because we try to make peace, it is not guaranteed. In fact, it sounds as if, things will get worse. So why try?

In Matthew 20:34-36 Jesus says:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”

… but in John 14:27 he states:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

If Jesus didn’t bring the ‘peace’ he gives us, and we can’t make it, then how can these seemingly contradictory understandings of peace be reconciled? Or perhaps they do not need to be. Perhaps what Jesus was attempting to teach us is we cannot make real peace between different beliefs.

Jesus’s words in these regards are actually pointing to how we may, if we choose, begin to realize that all our beliefs are just beliefs, that they are not what we are, and not what the real world (Creation) is.

Rupert Spira describes it as follows:

“The peace that is inherent in us—indeed that is us—is not dependent on the content of experience, the circumstances, situations or conditions we find ourselves in. It is a peace that is prior to and at the same time present in the fluctuations of the mind. As such, it is said to be the peace that passeth understanding.”

-Hazrat Inayat Khan states it in kind:

“There are two aspects of individual harmony:
the harmony between body and soul,
and the harmony between individuals.
All tragedy in the world. in the individual
and the multitude, comes from lack of harmony
And harmony is the best given by producing
…. harmony in one’s life.”

If we awaken to the Peace that is us, then we can act with kindness and compassion towards those who are identified with their beliefs. Jesus said to walk the second mile, turn the other cheek, give not only your shirt but your cloak as well, love your enemy, pray for your enemy, let your light shine, be humble, be meek, give generously, show mercy.

While Jesus was teaching and living his message, he also confronted the pharisees, sadducees, and various others who opposed him, with the Truth. He overturned tables in the Temple, he broke the “rules” by healing on the sabbath, he called out the teachers of the law as snakes and vipers.

At one point in his ministry before he sent his disciples out into the mission field, Jesus gave them these instructions, “When you enter someone’s household, say, ‘Shalom aleikhem (Peace unto you)!’” He further explained that some people will not receive the Shalom—peace, tranquility, safety, well-being, welfare, health, contentment, success, comfort, wholeness and integrity–you extend, and when this happens, “let your Shalom return to you.”

What does all of this look like here and now? How does this translate on Facebook and other social media platforms where everyone struggles to have their beliefs confirmed? I don’t know. I do know that everything we do and say must come from the peace “that is inherent in us” just as it did for Jesus. Nothing he did ever came from anywhere other than Peace.

The following hymn by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson seems a perfect place to end.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.
With God our creator, children all are we.
Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.
With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

Shalom aleikhem.

Written in tandem with John.

Kindness Too

Kindness Too

A yellow light on my dashboard caught my attention; it was the flat tire indicator. I checked the air pressure in each tire and inflated all four to the appropriate psi. Even after driving around, the light remained on. I re-checked and the tires appeared to be maintaining their air pressure. I did consider putting a piece of duct tape over the indicator light, but thought better of it.

Instead, I took my truck to a locally owned automotive repair shop. The extraordinary kindness of the employees was immediately evident. Everyone went out of their way to be helpful; and I said as much to the clerk when I paid my bill.

She said “it all boils down to treating people the way you want to be treated.”

The apostle Paul lists kindness as one of the “fruit of the Spirit” to the church in Galatia.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self-control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things. Galatians 5:22-23 Complete Jewish Bible

As I contemplated these attributes, I wondered if there is a reason for the sequence of the “fruit?” Is one trait more important than another? I found one article on-line to suggest that yes, from the beginning of the list to the end, one quality grows into the next. I’m not totally convinced that is true—they all seem equally important to me.

However, the longer I examined the list the more intrigued I became with how the attribute of kindness is smack dab in the middle of the nine. Moving forwards and backwards in the list, kindness is fifth—fifth from the beginning and fifth from the end—as if kindness is the pinnacle, the acme, the vertex of the fruit of the Spirit.

I even checked ten or so other translations to see if the arrangement changed in any way. Aside from a few paraphrased translations and the use of various synonyms in others, kindness remained rooted in the middle.

A little more research yielded the following information about the number five:

The number 5 symbolizes God’s grace, goodness and favor toward humans … Five is the number of Grace, and multiplied by itself, which is 25, is ‘grace upon grace’ (John 1:16) … The God’s law consists of five books, which are called Pentateuch. The New Testament Pentateuch consists of the 4 gospels and the book of Acts, which can be considered God’s grace and favor to the humankind. (

Ceramicist and author, Rupert Spira says “… I consider kindness one of the highest virtues … what we do to another, we literally do to ourselves …”

Kindness, it seems, is the beacon of hope; a light necessary to heal a year filled with the darkness of immeasurable and unrelenting grief and pain, seemingly insurmountable hatred and divisiveness, and incalculable suffering and need.

Kindness … let your light so shine.



“Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say:

‘I have called you by name, from the very beginning.  You are mine and I am yours.  You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests.  I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.  I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child.  I have counted every hair on you head and guided you at every step. 

Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch.  I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst.  I will not hide my face from you.  You know me as your own as I know you as my own.  You belong to me  I am your father your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover, and your spouse … yes even your child … wherever you are I will be.  Nothing will ever separate us.  We are one.'” 

Henry J.M. Nouwen  Life of the Beloved



The following is an excerpt from about the Pledge of Allegiance:

“The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time, it read:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower (a Republican, by the way) encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

What does this covenant mean to you? In light of the fact that Mr. Bellamy wrote it to “be used by citizens in any country,” shouldn’t there be a deeper more enlightened interpretation than simply devotion to one’s country?

There is a lot of talk about “unity” these days … unity and healing.

Both of these concepts appear to be the go-to sentiments since the 2020 election results were called for Mr. Biden by the Associated Press just a week ago. After a bit of research, I found the word ‘unity’ is a fairly common term in presidential inauguration, acceptance and concession speeches especially after particularly contentious campaigns and close election outcomes.

After all, we are the United States of America.

In light of the way so many people vehemently support the Pledge of Allegiance, how can those same folks say “America, love it or leave it?” Also, please note, right-wing Republicans and fundamental Evangelical Christians, that this oath that is at the very heart of your patriotic nationalism was written by a “socialist minister.” How is that for irony?

I have few enough friends on Facebook that it is very easy for me to tell when someone has unfriended me. As a result of my outspoken support of truth in the face of Mr. Trump’s lies and Mr. Biden’s win, I lost several of them in recent times. They felt, it seems, they could no longer associate with me due to, what appeared to them, as my supposed “hatred” of Mr. Trump.

And that’s just the thing …

I do not hate Mr. Trump. I do not hate anyone who supports him. To do so would be to believe they are not also children of God, and that is simply not true. Furthermore, in this very shared, interactive and interdependent world of ours, we cannot ever for very long disassociate from “our enemy” as some bloggers I have read suggest.

Jesus is adamant about how we are to respond to our enemy. Over and over again, His mandate is crystal clear in stories like the Good Samaritan and in the message of the Sermon on the Mount.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Matthew 5:44-47

If you do not believe him, perhaps the wisest king in Hebrew history can persuade you. Solomon said:

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the LORD will reward you. Proverbs 25: 21-22

To “heap coals of fire” on the heads of our enemies means to choose to act out of generous, selfless love rather than vengeance and retribution.

This is not easy! Just ask Malala Yousafzai or Corrie Ten Boom or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi or Nelson Mandela or Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

As I write this, I am looking out my front window through my neighbor’s yard to a house on the next block that has a blue Trump banner flying on the front porch. I have never met the person(s) living in that home but I could certainly make assumptions about them.

What good would that do? The anger, frustration and, yes, hatred toward them that fills my heart as I look at that pennant only hurts me!

And just because I have not been formally introduced to them, does not mean that I have not stood in line with them at the grocery store, or sat beside them at the doctor’s office, or had some kind of interaction with them in the course of one of my days.

Whether we know who are enemy is or not, we are called to treat people the way we want to be treated.

Perhaps this the true spirit of awareness Mr. Bellamy was calling forth in all God’s children.

Love is who you are. When you don’t live according to love, you are outside of being. You’re not being real. When you love, you are acting according to your deepest being, your deepest truth. You are operating according to your dignity. —Richard Rohr

For further perspective on this topic, please visit:

For more on the meaning of “heaping burning coals,” please visit the following site:



I’m waiting.

Among the Oxford Language definitions for the word wait is: “used to indicate that one is eagerly impatient to do something or for something to happen.”

“Eagerly impatient.”

‘Eagerness’ and ‘impatient’ are not two words that I often associate with one another. For me the word eager implies happiness and joy, while the word impatient implies disgust, worry, and/or anxiety. Putting these words together seems like an oxymoron.

My father and I often joke about his helping me with my math homework as a child, particularly word problems. I just did not get it and he was not patient. We can kid about it now, but at that point in time, it was not funny. I think I can honestly say that my dad was not eagerly impatient, waiting for me to understand, he was pretty damn frustrated, as was I.

Depending upon on whom you are voting for, you may feel eagerly impatient.

I have often found myself caught feeling anxious, concerned, and frightened while I wait for November 4th to get here. Do Trump supporters who are afraid of the “radical left” feel those same emotions worrying about Biden winning? Is this why I see campaign signs on FB and in front yards that read “Jesus 2020?” I do not see this slogan on the FB pages or front yards of Democrats, that I know. Does that mean we do not love Jesus like Republicans do? Do Republicans somehow believe Jesus would support Trump or is that their way of saving face in light of voting for a tyrannical twit?

Are Trump supporters as worried as I am about the acrimonious and contentious nature of our divided nation? Do they believe that the feelings of hostility and hatred will just disappear should Trump be re-elected?

As a child, I waited with great anticipation for Christmas wondering what Santa would bring and place under the tree. In high school, I waited for my learners permit to arrive in the mail. When I was a young adult, I could not wait to leave the nest and once married, I could not wait to have children. When my teenage sons began driving themselves, I could not wait for them to come home safe and sound.

Waiting … waiting in long lines at amusement parks, the movie theatre or the grocery store, waiting at the airport for a loved one, waiting for election results, waiting for tests results, waiting to be healed, waiting to die, waiting to live, waiting for universal restoration.

Whether we like it or not, we are in a perpetual state of waiting.

This year in particular appears to be defined by eager or anxious impatience, depending on your perspective, as we wait for a safe and effective COVID vaccine. I personally am having a very difficult time waiting to hug my grandchildren and other beloveds.

What is your state of mind and heart as you wait?

Isaiah 40:31 says:

but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

In the Complete Jewish Bible translation, it reads:

but those who hope in ADONAI will renew their strength,
they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings;
when they are running they won’t grow weary,
when they are walking they won’t get tired.

Waiting it seems is not a passive activity, but one filled with eager anticipation as the Oxford definition suggests, and one filled with hope.

Waiting with hope, how awesome is that!

It doesn’t mean we will not have doubts or questions. It doesn’t mean we will not act rashly. It doesn’t mean we will get what we want or think we should have. It does mean that we can trust in the One to whom we all belong.

My childhood pet was a dog named Dolly. She was my best friend and definitely a member of the family. When we came home from being out, she would be at the door waiting, dancing around with her tail wagging so hard it looked like it might fly off. This is what I imagine our hope looks like while we wait.

No matter who wins the election, there will still be beloveds sick and dying due to COVID and other diseases. There will still be people who are homeless and unemployed. Fires, hurricanes and earthquakes will continue to rage causing untold damage and destruction. Some things may change because one man is elected to office but it is not about that one man, it’s about us.

The question is not about how you will respond on November 4th, it is about how you are responding now. Do you know who your neighbor is now? What are you doing for your neighbor now?

Yes, we are waiting, but that waiting is being held in the hope of now.

The following quote from Mr. Rogers is our calling: be a helper, now.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”