Peace is Like Warm Syrup

Sometimes peace can seem a little out of reach or maybe for a few folks, even difficult to define.

I think each of us is born with a place of grace, a spot free of regret, disappointment, fear, shame and loneliness. To me it’s that untouched place from which is birthed love, joy, compassion, kindness and peace. Throughout our lifetime though, this place can become clouded over and we may lose touch with it from being wounded and hardened by life. Yet this place of pure grace remains untouched. Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, defines peace as harmony and tranquility derived from the awareness of the Christ, or unitive, consciousness. I believe it is known by many names including what is called Atman, Oneness, Buddha Nature, Tao, and what Jesus called Love, and we embody it when we become aware and awaken this consciousness, known as our Most Noble Self.

The Native American elder Black Elk tells us, “Peace comes within the souls of beings when they realize their relationship, their Oneness, with the Universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” It is the great paradox of that place of grace… it is everywhere, as well as at the center in each of us at the same time. No matter how clouded or covered over that pure center may become, it is always right within our reach.

Several years ago I heard an NPR news story about Ivory Harlow, a waitress in a small town Texas diner. She provides a human connection for many who live in a desert of loneliness and invisibility. She believes peace begins with one person and spreads from there. “I often see a look of isolation in my customers’ eyes. They come in the front door, wander to the counter, pick up the menu and look around the diner for something they can’t short-order: a connection.”

Peace begins with one person, but spreads like warmed syrup. When I connect with my neighbors, they return it in kind.

One day she offered a free pancake breakfast to a ragged and tired looking woman. The woman then asked to borrow bus fare and promised to return and pay it back. Three weeks later Ivory got her two dollars back, and the woman returning it even offered to buy her breakfast too!

Ivory believes that one act of friendliness can generate ripples of peace. She says “Peace begins with one person, but spreads like warmed syrup. When I connect with my neighbors, they return it in kind.” I like that… peace spreads like warmed syrup over those pancakes she gave to a hungry, tired, lost soul. A simple yet profound expression of that pure place of grace.

This is the epitome of attributed to Jesus, as scribed by the writer of the Gospel of John, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…” Why does Jesus say he is leaving peace with us? I think it’s because we are supposed to do something with that peace! We can’t just leave it to our neighbors. We each need to be responsible for the peace we want in the world. Jesus, and every master teacher leaves us peace because they know we are designed and made for this world to to do something with it.

When you hear voices raised, hostile words and tones – remember you are warm syrup. When you see a map or a globe – stop and know you are working for peace in our time. When you get angry, frustrated, disillusioned – vow not to add to the sum total of violence in the world. Whenever you feel a strong emotion coming on – a response to pain or pleasure, success or failure, extreme stress or thorough relief – say to yourself, “This, too, will pass.”

Remember the woman in Texas, who with one simple act of peace, a pancake breakfast, made a difference in a life. Peace begins with one person and spreads like warmed syrup. It wasn’t just left only by Jesus, it is left by each one of us every single day. Ask yourself every day, “When have I left my peace with you?”

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