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The Art of Peace for Unpeaceful People

November 19, 2020 by

“How do you maintain a sense of personal peace?”

Recently I was asked this, and it really annoyed me. There are many days I feel quite un-peaceful. Who doesn’t? Often I feel I am the last person cut out to be the blessed scriptural peacemaker.

This was the year I found myself compiling an apocalyptic playlist to help me even try to process the around-the-clock news of humanity’s madness and demise. After countless nights of worry as a parent, I still would not be surprised to wake up to “The New York Giants lost again, and Four Horsemen appeared early this morning in the skies over. . . .”

And part of me wanted to reply, “Does it even matter how I am feeling? Focusing on my peace seems narcissistic right now. What planet are you on?”

But later I gave this question further thought. Maybe this person had a point.

PeaceEmbed2Working on my drawing tablet – my preferred medium. Here I’m working on a label for my brewer friend.

As a father and husband, I have people around me that need to feel some calm and know emotional security, especially now. In my community, people I meet each day who need my encouragement and support. I cannot do this if I lose peace through the neglect of my inner wellbeing. I do need to take time and make the effort to remain centered.

Morihei Ueshiba, the Japanese martial artist and founder of the martial art of aikido wrote that, “The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace…Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter. One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train.”

Everyone has their own interests, but here are a few “places of training” I have found helpful in my pursuit for daily peace.

Using art and creativity. This past year has given me more opportunity to use art to maintain a sense of well-being and create encouragement for others. I contribute to our community’s magazine, but on the side, I draw for neighbors’ birthdays and anniversaries.

I have friends here who brew beer and make their own hot sauce; I often draw labels and other promotional items for their efforts. When we isolated at home, we created short comics to cheer up the kids in our community. Doing this gives me a sense of happiness and peace.

PeaceEmbed1I’m a regular contributor to Plough Magazine’s Forerunner series. I recently finished a painting to accompany a piece on Sojourner Truth. She was a woman of incredible courage and faith who was born in Rifton, New York, where I live.

Attending the Church of NatureSt. Francis de Sales advised, “Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, not even if your whole world seems upset. If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God, lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply.”

Prayer and Scripture are obvious components to this, but I find that taking a walk and appreciating the natural world are vital as well. It quickly puts things in perspective and helps me remember that we all are a very small part of something much bigger that was here long before us and will be still around long after.

I am fortunate to live in an area with a lot of hiking options and we get out every chance we can. If you are passing through the Hudson Valley, take advantage of the many scenic trails. It’s time well spent, and we leave revived.

Practicing generosity of spirit. On our wall, we have a list of paradoxical commandments for daily inspiration, the first of which is, People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered, LOVE THEM ANYWAY.

Much easier said than done! But accepting that we are all fallible and that everyone struggles no matter what façade they put on should inspire us do better in loving and respecting others.

I had a pastor who gave me some good advice. When I was having a hard time he suggested that instead of focusing on fixing my own situation I should look out for opportunities where someone else might have it worse, and encourage them. I have found his recommendation to be effective over time. Turning my attention to the needs of others and doing what I can to encourage them also brings me peace.

So, though the struggle continues, this initially annoying question actually helped me to think more on an important point, and I am now thankful for that.

How do you maintain a sense of personal peace?

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About the author

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Jason Landsel

Jason lives in upstate New York at the Woodcrest Bruderhof.

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