“Our greatest failure is not one of politics but of imagination. We need to imagine a world at peace and work backwards from there.” ~ Marianne Williamson in The Age of Miracles
You know how it is when someone says something that you “get” intellectually; you’ve heard it before, and its not a new concept, but suddenly, you hear it and get it viscerally. It has meaning at a cellular level. I was driving home from Robby’s soccer game this afternoon, having been gone with Charlotte most of the day, and I was stuck in traffic.
Listening, again, to the audio version of Marianne Williamson’s book, which I have found uplifting and inspiring (not bad when one is stuck in a traffic jam), I heard the above sentence and the light went on. Not in my head, but deep inside I felt and saw what she was talking about.
I imagined going home and making dinner for my family, pouring the love I have for them into the meal. My kids have always said that when I make them sandwiches, they taste better. I have always replied that its because there’s a secret ingredient. I have sent them off to school and on adventures with sandwiches full of organic and locally grown produce for years, but the secret ingredient is love. Growing up, I was the default cook in my family, and it became one of my first creative mediums. To this day, people say to me, what is your recipe? I am often unable to answer, but even when I do, they will often claim that it didn’t taste the same when they made it. I know that’s true. When I cook “out of” love, the food simply tastes better. It holds that love. Nothing is ever scorched or over seasoned. Nothing is bland. When I cook in a hurry or in resentment, the results are different. I lose the magic.
Taking off from Marianne’s quote, I thought about how this simple gesture, making dinner, when done with love and the intention to nourish the people I love, a gesture repeated across the globe every day, is, in one small way, a step in working backward from a vision of a peaceful world. Ghandi’s quote, that we read on bumper stickers and billboards,
“Be the change you want to see in the world”,
suddenly crystalized as well. A teacher I’ve learned a great deal from says,
“Its not what you do, but how you do it.”
Another quote from Marianne Williamson reads,
“Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we’re frantic, life will be frantic. If we’re peaceful, life will be peaceful. And so our goal in any situation becomes inner peace.”
All of these coalesced in my mind (including the one by Goethe from last night) into one big thought form as I sat in traffic near Husky Stadium. I pushed the back arrow on my cd player and listened again to Marianne. The third time, I had found a scrap of paper and a pen and was ready to record as she got to the words I was waiting for. The image I had in my mind was of going through my day, whatever it brings, in a blissed out state.
Now, that made me laugh! Nice idea, but not realistic. Un-wadding the stinky socks that my 17 year old son played soccer in a week ago and then threw in his bag to fester before finally sending them to the laundry room, while blissed out in a state of love for humanity and the earth is not something I can easily envision for myself at any time in the near future. But rather than get upset that its just not something I will ever do with grace, I can be more gentle with myself and not upset my own equilibrium, thus working backward from the image of a world at peace. I imagine that there will always be those who simply can’t enjoy the stinky socks they are washing out of love, but laughing about it while feeling the love and the inner peace it brings, might just dispel any negativity that the fact of that dislike might engender.
When I first sat down here to write tonight with the first quote in my hand, I had in mind writing something about stay-at-home moms being a force for imagining a world at peace. I was thinking about all the women, like my young friend Sarah, (my kids old babysitter who quoted my blog in hers), who are making the choice to stay home and raise their children, and how important it is for the whole world that they, as well as I, learn to value what we do as coming from a place of being rather than doing.
Its been noted in many places, by writers and thinkers, that hope for the future of our world lies in the hands of women. I believe this to be true. Perhaps, however, this has nothing to do with politics. Could it be that the leadership of our nations changes in a way that that we don’t usually think of? What if a groundswell of peacefulness beginning in the hearts of women around the world simply overwhelms the old patterns that have dictated world politics for decades. Perhaps its only from within our society, within the hearts of our families, that we have any hope of transforming this world into a world of peace. And only by being the peace within our families that we can initiate that ripple outward which joins with others, increasing in magnitude from the centers of homes across the globe. Maybe it doesn’t matter who the leaders of our countries are right now, or what congress is doing, if we all get on the “Peace Train” and simply do whatever it takes to teach ourselves, within our own hearts, how to be at peace.
A note on today’s photograph. The above is not actually my imagination, but a jellyfish I photographed at the Seattle Aquarium today while visiting with my daughter. We were being tourists in Seattle. It was a great way to spend the day with her being home literally as a visitor. We even had lunch on the waterfront before heading off to watch Robby play soccer.