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Finding Peace


My name, Erin, means Peace. I am a 9 on the enneagram (the peacemaker). I have been dedicated to peace for as long as I can remember. Peacemaking has been my M.O. It is my way of being. As a highly sensitive person, I sense a disturbance in the person or situation and I immediately go to work smoothing it out or getting away from it. Peacemaking is reflexive for me, a compulsion, "just the way I am."

I have done a stellar job of creating peace within myself. I feel peaceful and calm almost all of the time. My family life is very peaceful. Mike and I never fight, we never fight with the kids, I usually never fight with my friends. I have cultivated a peaceful life.

All of this has seemed very "good" and honorable, and comfortable. And then I realized something. I realized that the brand of peace that I have cultivated is not true peace. It is an anesthetized, sanitized version of peace. It is the peace of privilege, not the peace of enlightenment. I am able to use the abundant resources that I have to keep my life contained and generally controlled. I can choose the clients that I work with, I homeschool my children so I can control what and who influences them, I am able to afford healthy food and good medicine. I have been able to afford many trainings to better myself and gain skills in wellness. I am so grateful for my peaceful life, but I can't stop here.

True peace is safety and wellbeing for all of us. As long as some of us are suffering and do not have access to the resources to cultivate peace in their lives, then peace for any of us is elusive. True peace takes hard work, facing the shadows, getting angry and indignant and feeling helpless. These are all feelings that I have tried to avoid in my compulsion to be at peace.

True peace requires conflict, tension, collaboration. I can feel swelling anxiousness in my chest as I write these words. I know that when I step across a threshold in my growth, when I glimpse a new horizon, the Universe leans in close, smiles a broad cheshire cat smile, and serves it up. I feel certain that I will be given ample opportunities to sit with anger, shame, frustration, helplessness in myself and in others, as I learn to dance with these big emotions and move forward to work for real, sustainable peace in my life and in my community.

Those of us who are peacemakers can get trapped into believing that if we stay in our houses with the meditation music playing and the incense burning and limit our consumption of media, the peace we feel will ripple out into the world and make it more peaceful by osmosis. I used to really and truly believe this. Now, I'm not so sure. I have been praying for a sense of true belonging in this world, and I believe that this feeling of unrest about the nature of peace is the answer to that prayer.

This Franciscan Blessings seems to sum it up pretty well:

May God bless you with discomfort, At easy answers, half-truths, And superficial relationships So that you may live Deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger At injustice, oppression, And exploitation of people, So that you may work for Justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears, To shed for those who suffer pain, Rejection, hunger and war, So that you may reach out your hand To comfort them and To turn their pain to joy

And may God bless you With enough foolishness To believe that you can Make a difference in the world, So that you can do What others claim cannot be done To bring justice and kindness To all our children and the poor.

Amen

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