Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Sweet Peace #33: One peace lesson is not enough

   (Thanks for joining me on this 52-week journey toward peace which began with sugar and food, and now colors every aspect of my path. May it sweeten your own journey.)

   My building is being painted. It is a quadrangle with a central courtyard with my apartment overlooking the courtyard. It’s a peaceful scene with trees, bright flowers and a gazebo where people often gather and I can hear their voices and laughter.

However, we are now in week two of a building painting project and the sounds have gone mechanical. The moving cherry picker growls and back-up shrieks as it takes a painter to the upper story. Something on the ground makes a sound from past years … the repetitive and irritating rhythm of trying to start a car on a cold morning. Over several days of leaning into this continuous grinding, I’ve decided that it must be some machine that controls the flow of paint and that it will never stop starting until this project is done.


Non-mechanical sounds come from the painters, mostly Mexicans speaking Spanish, sharing the details of the job, occasionally laughing, providing human grace notes between the creaking, grinding sounds of machinery.


I treasure silence and sounds of nature so I awaited this project with impatience and dread, wanting it to be over, wanting it not to interfere with my workflow. Now I seem to be becoming entrained to it, waiting for the rhythms of starting and stopping, watching as parts of the walls become an unbroken, warm beige, appreciating the workmanship of prepping the walls, trimming the bushes and trees, power washing walls which have stood here for over fifty years, housing students and now seniors.


I am melding into these walls, this space, this place and it's rhythms, becoming a part of the fog that seeps into the mornings and gently rises with the day, and recognizing the perfection and rhythms of this particular dance of life, this particular now. Perhaps that is one lesson of peace, adjusting to what is, understanding our place in the scheme of things.


And then I try to apply this lesson to the war in Ukraine and the whole thing falls apart. What is the lesson of peace there? What is the lesson of peace in a country so divided it's as if we all are speaking different languages? What is the lesson of peace as we destroy the planet we call home? These answers may take more than 52 weeks.



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