Tales June 2009
I am writing this column on Memorial Day, and so did a little research about this day in history. Each year since 1948 the president of the United States has proclaimed Memorial Day a "Day of Prayer for Permanent Peace." This got me to thinking about the conflicts going on in our world on a personal as well as large scale. I wondered if there was anything we might do about changing this situation for the better.
We all know that it is far easier to start with peace and build on it rather than begin with conflict and have to find our way back to peace. Might we build a culture of peace so that conflict simply has no place to take root? The Buddhists have a practice called “Metta” or “Loving-kindness” which might be helpful in reaching this goal. It is a meditative technique or prayer which many Buddhists use every day. The idea is to start with yourself, start by praying for yourself using these words: May I be filled with loving-kindess. May I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease. May I be happy. Teachers of this technique suggest that we practice it just like this for awhile, until it becomes familiar and comfortable to us. After a few weeks, they say to start offering this prayer for others, for friends and family. Hold someone in your mind and heart and pray the prayer for them: May she be filled with loving-kindess. May she be well. May she be peaceful and at ease. May she be happy. After another while, when you have become familiar with this prayer and have surrounded the people you love with it, then it is time to offer it for the people you find it difficult to deal with - people you might even call your enemies. Take them one at a time, after you have first taken some time to pray for yourself and are feeling calm and centered in loving-kindness, then offer the prayer for someone difficult: May he be filled with loving-kindess. May he be well. May he be peaceful and at ease. May he be happy.
One prayer or technique in and of itself, is probably not enough to create a culture of peace, but it is a start. I invite you to join in beginning the process toward creating a peaceful world.
Peace and Joy! Shirley Oskamp, Pastor