Skyline, Fall - 2012

By Diane Pendola



Printer Friendly Version

Did you know that yesterday, September 21, is observed annually as International Peace Day? In the morning, at United Nations headquarters in New York City, the Peace Bell was rung to inaugurate this as a day dedicated to peace, encouraging both personal and communal reflection on peace. I recently returned from a five day Peace Intensive convened by James O'Dea, author of the book "Cultivating Peace," a profound exploration of peace linking the inner life with the whole web of life. [i] I have also begun re-reading Raimon Panikkar's book "Cultural Disarmament: The Way to Peace"[ii] in which he suggests that peace is one of the few positive symbols having meaning for the whole of humanity. Therefore it has the capacity to function as a unifying force for dialogue, reconciliation and renewal, catalyzing the shift in consciousness necessary to make the leap that our moment in time requires.[iii]

These last few months have been a critical moment in time for me personally. In thinking about writing this EARTHLINES I wondered, how could I not write this over-arching truth: My dad died. Everything has changed. Before saying anything more about peace, I need to put peace in this context: My dad died. These few simple words are so full of the complexity of life-of my life; and of death-of my death and the death of those I love. How can I write how everything has changed and yet nothing appears different? Life goes on. Work goes on. I get out of bed, have my coffee. Your death has passed. It is over. A card, a phone call, an email and people move on. They are the center of their lives as they should be. Life is now: for those of us still living, breathing, hoping, dreaming. It is I, who love you, who is frozen in the moment when I had to say good-bye. Even though I go on-eating, drinking, breathing, laughing-a part of me is frozen in time, unthawed. There is a piercing at the center of my heart. I feel it now as I write-like the smallest knife; like the tiniest point of a needle in the soft center of me.

I am spiraled back to perennial questions: Is the Universe trustworthy? Is body, manifestation, organism, Life, trustworthy? Is the depth dimension, infinity, divinity, Light, trustworthy? Am I, human consciousness, awareness, witnessing presence, Love, trustworthy? Death, suffering, aging, diminishment-this also is Life. Can this be trusted? This rising and falling? This fruiting and rotting away? This flourishing and decomposing? Is Death trustworthy? Is Birth? Is Life?

The Trust that allows me to answer Yes to these questions shares the same depths, the same essence and source as Peace. Both transcend reason. Grief can bring the mind to its knees, the will to surrender and the heart to breaking. Loss can push you over a threshold you would never choose to cross. Tears can crack rock and drop you into a well that springs up to eternal life.

We will all be gone soon. As Mary Oliver says doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?[iv] For my life, dad's death is a threshold moment; a rite of passage. I feel washed and worn, well worn, like a soft pair of jeans and soft white shirt. I feel empty. I feel silent, like Holy Saturday, when after the crucifixion, after the death and after the burial, time stops. I descend into earth. My world stands still. Nothing is more important than anything else. My spirit finds the silence of Source and rests in a communion that transcends thought. It feels as though a door has been flung open and a whole new energy is coming into my life: a broad, blue, open field of space and kindness and freedom. I feel this along with the sadness and unbelief that dad could possibly be gone; along with the piercing needle of his absence at the core of my soft heart. And this too, opens me to peace. Peace with death. Peace with life. Peace as a parting gift of my dad's love for me. Peace as the gift of my dad's spirit in me.

Today is the first day of fall, the autumnal equinox. The equinox is that time of year when the length of the day and the length of the night is relatively equal. Darkness and Light are in balance. It's an appropriate time to celebrate World Peace Day. Peace consists of this balance between the invisible and the visible, between the formless and the manifest, between the personal and the communal, the inner world and the outer world. What holds these polarities in creative tension? What keeps them from collapsing into each other, or flying hopelessly apart? What is the center of the fulcrum? What is the Source of Peace? Some call it Spirit. Some call it God. Some call it Tao:

Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.
Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.
If you don't realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.......[v]

Our small selves cannot make peace happen. Peace is not taken by force. We can, however, immerse ourselves in the wonder of the Tao. In being open and receptive we are prepared to receive the gift of Peace. In preparing ourselves we prepare the world.

Therefore we sink our roots into the great ground of Trust and allow our organism to surrender to the wisdom of all it's seasons.

With confidence in Life and Light and Love, may it be so.

flower from rock

[i] http://jamesodea.com/books/cultivating-peace
[ii] Raimon Panikkar, Cultural Disarmament: The Way to Peace, 1995
[iii] The Shift Network has a week of extraordinary peace activities planned for this first week of fall. Check them out at http://birth2012activation.com/
[iv] Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day" from New and Selected Poems, 1992
[v] Tao, Chapter 16 From a translation by S. Mitchell


©Diane Pendola, Fall 2012. You are welcome to print or make a copy in electronic form for personal use or sharing with interested persons as long as the copyright notice is not removed or altered. Please do not print it in any other publication, or sell it, by itself or as part of another work, without express written permission of the author.

If you believe you receive a benefit from this, and the work we do, a donation would be gratefully accepted. You can make a tax deductible donation by sending a check to Skyline Harvest, Inc, PO Box 338, Camptonville, CA 95922 Thank you!

Back to Top