How do we live in a world where hatred and fear are rising and the strong prey upon the weak? I ask this question each morning as I sit in meditation. In the early dark hours I am comforted by my breath coming and going as the new day rises. Thus I am able to set aside the fears of the night and resist the temptation to ruminate on troubles that no doubt lie ahead. “Fear not” says my inner angel and I trust in her. If I just put one foot in front of another with as much compassion as I can muster, I can face my fear and find the courage I need in my heart. I embrace the day as a chance to live in faith—my faith that cannot be put into words.
We face so many challenges: the election which put huge powers in the hands of extreme and ill-prepared people while seasoned opportunists stand by alert for the chance to profit; the rapidly warming climate reaching a point of no return; the shifting balances of world power elevating despots and increasing the risks of war—just to name a few. It is tempting to stick one’s head in the sand. But that would be unwise for we need good information to know how to prepare, when to speak up and where to protect. We have to be wise as serpents to know how to live our truth. We have to stand as witnesses. We have to prepare to stand down injustice.
Even among the wolves we cannot be as sheep, running in circles wild with fear. We cannot engage in acts of retaliatory violence, rather we must be harmless as doves—the symbol of peace. Peace is a fruit of mindfulness practice. If you have peace you have what is most precious in life. Peace encompasses love and makes compassion possible. But peace does not mean running away from the world. It means turning toward others with clarity, knowledge and strength. Rather than being passive or disengaged, peace is the most active, most powerful force there is. Peace can be felt, seen and experienced, and when it is people are transformed. And peace exists inside of every human being. That gives me a hope and something to practice now.