In Her Words: A Resident’s New Year Thoughts
Pennswood Village resident Marguerite wrote this letter to friends and family in celebration of the 2014 holiday season. We are sharing her words here (with her permission) because we feel it is an excellent example of many of the Quaker values that define Pennswood Village.
Christmas is exactly what it claims and seldom what we expect… God is with us—Emmanuel—through life’s inextricable weaving of joy with sorrows, belief with doubt, peace with fear, expectation with reality. (from One Silent Night by Janice Chaffee)
This quote speaks to the heart of what I would say in this end-of-year missive. Personally, Richmond and I are living blessed lives: we know how good we have it. We enjoy excellent health, a welcoming and safe place to live, interesting and worthwhile work to do, children and grandchildren who are living productive lives, generous and committed friends and neighbors. This surely is the best of times for us.
But how can we not be mindful of those around us (family and friends—and members of our human family we’ll never meet) that are suffering, ill, homeless, fearful? For them, these may be the worst of times.
The world has never been smaller. No matter our individual circumstances, we are connected to one another, affected by one another. “No one is free until everyone is free,” has never been truer.
We are living in a “between time,” not where we were and not where we’re going to be. What do we do? What is our response-ability? What gives us hope? Surrounded by so much darkness—at the darkest time of the year in this part of the world—now, more than ever, we need to “mind the Light”—the Light (whatever your tradition, however that shows up for you) that the Darkness has never put out.
“Comparison is the death of joy,” Mark Twain observed. In this “between time,” though we cannot clearly see a path, the only the next right step is towards the Light. Where is the star I can follow? My “star,” my path, may look different than yours, but at its source, in spite of distractions, busyness, drama or despair, is the path of peace. “There is no way to peace. Peace is the Way.” We must begin to imagine what a peaceful world looks like.
Many years ago when I told Mother Teresa I was working on ending hunger in the world, she told me, “Begin with your self. Then end hunger in your family. Then end hunger with your neighbor, then with your community, your state, the world.” “What can we do to change the world?” a highly educated man asked her. “Smile at each other,” she said. “Do small things with great love.” Working with the poorest of the poor, Mother Teresa was still able to say, “The miracle of this work is not that we do it, it’s that we do it with joy!”
Each First Day, as I enter the Newtown Meetinghouse, there is a Quaker saying on the wall that says, “Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God is every person.” By myself, I’ll surely fail. However, what I’m clear about is that peace cannot be achieved without a vision of what peace looks like, love is not love in isolation, individually we can be defeated by the Darkness of this world, but together, in fellowship with at least one other, I can see the Light and amplify it—and you can (and you and you and you can too).
From a leading I received while I was meditating in silence, our daughter Laura created this “IMAGINE PEACE” logo. Will you help me pass the word? Will you join me in doing one thing each day to “respect the Earth and all living creatures?” In the spirit of the People’s Climate March, will you reach out to someone who acts or thinks or looks differently than you and ask them how they imagine peace?
Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes. -Anon.