As I followed the Armistice Day events around the world, marking the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI, I was struck by the appropriateness of remembering this horrendous event in history on a cold, somber November day. Darkness and dreariness seem to define most of that which is November as surely as it no doubt defined many days during this and other wars. At this time of year, in much of the Northern Hemisphere, we are fortunate enough to be able to “hunker down” in the warmth of our homes sheltered from the cold days that lie before us; but not so for the millions who lived in the trenches day in and day out exposed to the elements regardless of the season through those four l-o-n-g years. They surely endured what must have been an endless misery – a reality that most of us can only begin to imagine.
I was also struck by the images of some 60 heads of state that attended the Remembrance Service at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris at the invitation of the French President Emmanuel Macron. As little as two years ago, such a picture would have been viewed as a comforting symbol of unity amongst nations – but not so on this Remembrance Day! In the words of President Macron “Old demons are resurfacing. History sometimes threatens to take its tragic course again and compromise our hope of peace. Let us vow to prioritize peace over everything.” These words are a grim reminder of the ease and direction in which a handful of our present world leaders seem to be charting their course these days. For me, President Macron’s words were sounding a clarion call.
As contemplatives our work in the world seems more important than ever! As a contemplative in action, what role(s) am I willing to take on to promote peace and justice in the world? Am I willing to put myself “out there” to take up a cause that supports or promotes peace? How can I support others who work for justice/peace on a daily basis? How do I see myself engaged in doing this important work?
I leave you with these words from the Peace Pilgrim:
“It is through solving problems correctly that we grow spiritually. We are never given a burden unless we have the capacity to overcome it. If a great problem is set before you, this merely indicates that you have the great inner strength to solve a great problem. There is never really anything to be discouraged about, because difficulties are opportunities for inner growth, and the greater the difficulty the greater the opportunity for growth.”
And so in honour and remembrance of all those who have lived and died seeking peace, let us seek ways to walk with each other in a spirit of peace. May we also find “great inner strength” as we choose to do our part in resolving the “great problems” we encounter in our present world.