_ Blessed are the peacemakers _
Because my daily work is combing the internet for social justice resources, when I hear this beatitude I most often think first of peacemaking on a large scale. Ceasefires in war-torn countries, withdrawal of troops from occupied lands, demolition of land mines and Jimmy Carter intervening in seemingly endless conflicts. But with all the focus on the world out there it is easy to forget the small world behind the door of our craftsman bungalow and the vast world of conflict in my own heart.
If my own heart is not at peace then my efforts to change the world will be haphazard at best. At their worst all my good intentions might end up heaping coal on the fire of conflict.
Parker Palmer says in Let Your Life Speak “The power for authentic leadership, Havel tells us, is found not in external arrangements but in the human heart. Authentic leaders in every setting—from families to nation-states—aim at liberating the heart, their own and others, so that its powers can liberate the world.”
So while as an activist-minded Christian I lean into putting my faith into action in the public square, I know that I need to be intentional about cultivating a peaceful heart and home so that my actions spring from the love of God and not my own agenda. To be intentional I need to have regular practices in place that will help me connect with the peaceful heart that God has created within me. Gardening, a toasty backyard fire, walking, praying, yoga, journaling and even just plain old down-time – are way more than distractions from “getting stuff done” they are my sustenance for the long haul. Even greater than the ways in which I nourish my own heart are the ways I offer peace to those in my life. Forgiveness is the essential ingredient in a world of peace. Love and forgiveness are the building blocks for all peacemaking – in our hearts, homes, nation and world.
There are many ways to create a life steeped in love and forgiveness. Karen Armstrong’s Campaign for Love and Forgiveness offers beautiful, concrete practices for cultivating love and forgiveness.
What practices in your life help create a heart fertile with love and forgiveness? What resources have you found to help you on your journey?