Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind. – Henri Frederic Amiel
Someone I love once gave me a white sparkly door knob hanger with the word “Peace” scripted upon it. I think it enjoys its place of privilege hanging out on the cabinet above my refrigerator. A loving reminder of how I wish my days to be. It helps me consider the ways I can bring peace to my small part of the world.
I think if we pay attention, we happen upon numerous times every day to spread a bit of peace in a world that seems to be too full of strife and worry.
For example, someone once told me that I do not have to attend every altercation to which I am invited. Interesting challenge. How to begin? Maybe by graciously stepping aside without a word when someone jumps ahead of me in a long, grocery line. Or more challenging still, when a driver cuts me off on an interstate causing me to slam on brakes to avoid an accident.
This was recently brought home when I left a glorious yoga class all Zen-like only to find two minutes later that I was honking my horn at a car who pulled out in front of me. Not only did I lose my Zen, I spent too long stewing on it. Now, who did that benefit? Certainly, not me.
These days I work harder to let these types of destructive opportunities pass by the wayside.
Another lesson I’ve learned that works really well is simply “not to play.” When a cross word is uttererd, an angry gesture is made, when the hurtful past (which cannot be changed) comes up for another round of debate or blame, when conversation moves to what ought to have been done, could have been done, why wasn’t it done – we can simply choose not to play. A simple word of peace – of self-forgiveness and forgiveness of another – of acknowledging, that yes, you could have done better and are sorry you did not can suffice and can keep the unchangeable past where it should be – in the past.
Thus, freeing us up, to move into the present moment with love and without bitterness.
My current job lands me in many airport waiting areas with other tired business travelers (like myself), weary children and angry passengers whose flights are delayed. I often think of the stress airlines employees experience when they deliver news of cancelled or delayed flights. So when I am disappointed by a long delay, I try to muster the fortitude to look them in the eye and thank them for their attempts to facilitate our journeys.
Once I had a wise and wonderful teacher who taught about random acts of kindness and I was stuck one day by a tiny act he does for housekeepers at his hotel. Instead, he said, of leaving a bunch of dirty towels on the bathroom floor or in the bottom of the bathtub, he suggested we fold them nicely and lay them on the vanity. That way the housekeeper does not have to bend down to retrieve them. She has such a physical job anyway. It’s just a little way of helping her do her job more easily.
Can we overlook a slight? Sometimes this is a hard thing. When your boss once again takes the credit and does not mention your name at the staff meeting. When you are not included in an invitation that you expected to receive. When someone begins to take you for granted a little too often. Can we accept that lack of recognition with a little grace and humility and simply let it go? I’m not talking about being a door mat – but just about being gracious.
I’m not saying I am good at these things. I am saying that I wish to make myself more amenable to walking away when that is what is best. When it is a small thing that can be cured with a smile or a simple return gesture of love or a gift of forgiveness you give to someone who does not even know you granted it to him. (Think about the hurried driver who pulls out in front of you and you decide not to cause further disruption in the world by laying your hand down hard on the car horn.)
Every moment filled with angst is a moment of peace we have lost.
Every time we choose to say a kind word, in the face of stress or strife, we have a chance to thwart harm and to spread peace.
Make haste to be kind – and do it creatively! There are so many ways to do good!