Skyline, Winter - 2012

By Diane Pendola

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Traditionally, we speak about peace this time of year. We recognize the human yearning for peace. We long for the birth of the light that brings peace. The events in Newtown, Connecticut make us wonder if peace is possible, if violence is woven into our human DNA, if we are capable as a species of transforming our fear and our anger and murderous rage; of truly creating a world of compassion, of community and deep communion. Festschrift in honor of Francis, were obviously pleased to be welcoming us to this beautiful place on the sea that they had taken such care in choosing for their friends. Francis greeted us by thanking us for coming and saying, "as you will see these days, friendship for me is the highest form." Then he and Clemens honored us with an Indian feast in the cool breeze of the resort's open air restaurant, with the ocean sounding in our ears.

We heard from the ravaged people of Newtown that the chasm of grief that opened, personally and collectively, flooded their community not only with tears but also with compassion. They felt a whole nation reach toward them in a wave of solidarity. The sense of separateness with which most of us go through our every day lives, was momentarily washed away by this tide of empathy, of shared grief and loss and horror and pain. Suffering can open us to our shared humanity. The kindness of strangers can make us weep and feel again the possibilities of hope. On the other hand, suffering can further separate us off from each other, increasing our loneliness and despair and walling us off from our own soft and vulnerable core.

Maybe that is what happened to Adam Lanza, the 20 year old become mass murderer of the soft and vulnerable…

Each of us is confronted with a choice, particularly at these moments when the veil between life and death is shredded. I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendents may live. It’s not always easy to choose life, nor is it always clear what choosing life looks like. We want to protect our soft hearts. We want to protect ourselves, our children and all of what we love against violence and pain and threat.

Lately the question has come to me from various directions: Do I believe peace is possible? According to science journalist, Jon Horgan who wrote "The End of War," the great majority of us believe that peace is not possible. We talk about it. We sing sentimental hymns about it at Christmas time. We relegate it to another place that is not this place; another world that is not this world. But here, on earth, among men and women of different religions, tribes and nations? Most of us think not.

And yet, if we can’t think peace; if we can’t IMAGINE peace, we are surrendering that which makes us most human: the ability to imagine what is possible and to participate in going about the work of creating what we imagine.

We are oversaturated with images of violence: TV, video games, news media. How is it that we are entertained by violence? How is it that we have chosen to allow the violent images, that others have created, to fill our minds and seep into our hearts? How is it that we have relinquished mastery over our minds and imaginations to media hypnotists that entrance us by appealing to the basest of our human nature? Sloth, anger, pride, envy, avarice, gluttony, lust, fear and deceit drive our advertizing. They inflame our appetites to consume the planet while depleting our energies to imagine something more sublime, something worthy of the divine that lives at our core.

At the winter solstice, the planet has tilted as far away from the sun as possible. Now is the time of turning back toward the light. At this time, in the Jewish tradition, we re-dedicate ourselves to the light. At this time, in the Christian tradition, we embrace the suffering and labor that births the human incarnation of light into the world.

The soft and vulnerable plead within us. The children who have died, and the children who are dying cry from the heavens for us to change our minds, to rectify our failure of imaginations and create the world we are capable of making. Now is our time to turn again. Now is our time of re-dedication. Now is our time to be birthers of Light and embodiments of Love. Now is our time to think peace, to imagine peace, to BE Peace.

I set before you life or death, blessing or curse.
Choose life, then, so that you and your descendents may live.

#winter at Skyline#

May you Walk into the Light of Peace


©Diane Pendola, Winter 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.

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