Tag Archives: Peace

Finding Your Place of Peace

Spring_Place of peace

Everyone should have at least one place of peace, a place to find nurturing and renewal for the soul. One of my favorite places is the spring at the head of the canyon nearby.

The spring flows out of a mountain, bounding noisily over rocks and winding through the greenery it nourishes. It is a joyful noise, a hopeful noise. It becomes a creek, flowing down the canyon to provide water for a town and growth for lush pastures.

Sitting by the spring and watching the water’s continuous flow is a reminder that the Creator of this earth generously, constantly supplies our needs. He created an amazingly complex self-sustaining habitat for us, and if we do not foul it up too much, it seems capable of going on indefinitely. This creation is a manifestation of His love for us, His children.

The spring is a reminder of the “living water” Jesus spoke of (John 4:10) that nourishes our eternal spirits. If we will let Him, if we are willing, He will give us that water continually too. Sitting by the spring is a reminder that we can be washed clean through Him.

The spring is not the only place I can find this renewal, but I go there as often as I can.

Do you have a place like the spring? It doesn’t have to be hidden away in the mountains. I have found such places in the countryside or in cities on six continents. Sometimes I have found them under the stars at night.

It only needs to be a place where you can go in your heart and mind to think about the good things in this life—the things you receive, and the things you can give. Even if your everyday surroundings seem grim and depressing, you can make them better this way. I can have the spring in my mind anytime I want it.

Hopelessly optimistic? Not really. I am a natural-born pessimist, something of a skeptic. But I have found through many years of experience that this works. If I focus on the blessings made available to me by a loving Father in Heaven, I am strengthened and refreshed. It works even better when I try to think how I can share the blessings.

Try it. It will help. My wish for you is that you find your own place of peace like the spring.

 

 

Cramming for Finals

Peace in the scriptures.

Finding peace in troubled, worrisome times.

We are blessed, my wife and I, to have a safe haven at home right now—no illness, so far, and still able to buy food as needed. We know that so many other people are suffering, and there is heartache in knowing there is nothing we can do to help.

We are cut off temporarily from the offices where we have been doing volunteer work. Under other circumstances, we would go out and find ways to help someone else, but that could be dangerous to others and to us as well. Stuck at home like everyone else, we are trying to make the best of a bad situation.

Sitting around doing nothing would be impossible—something neither of us can tolerate. It would be mind-numbingly boring—like, looking-for-faces-in-the-patterns-on-the-floor-tile boring.

There’s no shortage of online advice about what to do—“The Eight New Shows You Have to Watch Right Now,” “The Best Movies to Stream,”  “The Best Books for When You Can’t Go Out,” etc. But in practicality some of those things get old quickly.

TV? After news programs and PBS shows, what? (By the way, why do the British shows always seem better written?)

Streaming movies? “Action” movies mean high body count and plots that range from unlikely to impossible. “Romance”? Again, unlikely plots, and too many cases of love = sex. “Edgy” independent movies? Well, they’re edgy, and who wants any kind of downer right now?

Reading? Ah, yes. There are whole libraries of good stuff online, and this has been an excellent chance to turn to some gift books I have received in the past, because now I actually have time for them. There are also some of my favorite books that warrant another look.

Books can be so much more engaging. In fiction, the theater of the mind has always been more powerful for me than movies. In philosophy, social science, and religion there is time to ponder and absorb concepts that can enrich or change my life.

2 Nephi 25:23-27

“. . . we rejoice in Christ . . .”

I’ve been spending a lot of time with the scriptures. In the Bible and the Book of Mormon— of both testifying of the crucial, eternally essential role Jesus Christ plays in our lives—I find doctrines and concepts to savor at length. In other modern scriptures and the words of modern prophets, I find elaboration and explanation that expand the intellect and feed the soul.

Certainly, I haven’t reached a level of saintliness where I spend all day pondering verses of scripture. But I’m spending a lot more time than I used to. It has something to do with what Jesus said about laying up treasures in heaven. (See Matthew 6:19-20 in the New Testament or 3 Nephi 13:19-20 in the Book of Mormon.) This seems like a good time to be looking for wisdom, and treasures of spiritual knowledge that become embedded in the eternal soul. (See James 1:5 and Luke 1:16-17 in the New Testament, or 3 Nephi chapter 17 verse 3, and Doctrine and Covenants section 109, verse 7.) In all of these verses, the Lord calls on us to learn—to store up treasures that cannot be taken from our eternal spirits by death of the mortal body.

Years ago, I read an anecdote about a child who asked, “Grandma, why do you spend so much time reading the Bible?” Grandma replied: “I’m cramming for finals.”

The time we’ve been given at home right now seems like a good opportunity to do some cramming for finals.

 

 

 

On the Side of the Angels? Seek Peace

Israeli youth, Auschwitz.

Visiting Israeli youth wave the flag of their country over the streets of Auschwitz.

There’s no way to come down on the side of the angels in the conflict between Israel and its neighbors. Both sides seem to perpetrate their share of bloodshed, horror, cruelty, and devastation.

Sorting out claims to the land itself would be impossible. Each side can point out claims that go back to ancient times. Is there any way today to determine exactly where Jacob and Esau walked, where they may have erected a pillar, where they kept their herds and staked their tents? The issues of ownership seem to be beyond resolution.

And each side, in the name of right, seems able to justify harsh and cruel treatment of the other.

Many years ago, my wife and I visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. It was depressing to see detailed evidence of the horrors inflicted by Nazis on the Jews—stunning, almost inconceivable.

As our tour of Israel continued, our Israeli guide stood next to the Arab bus driver and described Israel’s victories and domination over its enemies. We saw Arabs restricted to life in certain areas, required to produce ID on demand.

Wait—didn’t the Nazis begin this way with the Jews in the 1930s?

Let there be no misunderstanding: I am not comparing Israel’s treatment of people within its national borders with the actions of Nazi Germany in my parents’ generation. There is no equivalency. Nazi atrocities leave me unable to imagine how the human spirit could sink so

Auschwitz prisoners

The hopeless faces of prisoners executed at Auschwitz.

low. I have visited Auschwitz. I have seen the bins of human hair and artificial limbs taken from Jewish prisoners, the execution wall for the disobedient, the empty canisters of chemicals from which poison gas was made, the hopeless faces in photos of prisoners who were among the exterminated.

I suppose my sympathies will always be on the side of the Israelis so long as neighboring nations are dedicated to wiping them out simply because they exist. Surely the Israelis have the right to defend themselves. Who can blame Jewish citizens for being cautious and wary, considering that it’s necessary for parents armed with automatic weapons to accompany their children on school outings? Why should they have to live with deadly rockets constantly raining down on their homes? And yet I flinch at news accounts of wholesale retribution in Gaza that includes women and children among its victims.

The recent downing of a Malaysian commercial airliner over Ukraine points out that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only part of a much larger worldwide horror: the inflicting of death and suffering on innocent people in attempts to grab power or establish political domination. Pro-Russian forces who apparently shot down that plane have no right to think of themselves as patriots or freedom fighters; they are murderers, war criminals—monsters.

Throughout the world there are groups that claim the right to dominate or eliminate others based on historical wrongs or moral or ethnic superiority. Think tribal warfare in Africa, or “Islamic” terrorists who have hijacked the faith to justify their own tyrannical aspirations. No such group is an agent of God, or Allah. Every such group is an enemy to humankind.

Visiting Israeli youth at Auschwitz draped in the flag of their country.

Visiting Israeli youth at Auschwitz draped in the flag of their country.

I have had hope for some time because of the image here of visiting Israeli youth waving their country’s flag over the streets of Auschwitz. The Nazis are gone. Their evil was defeated, and they were not able to wipe out a people they hated. The right prevailed—that time.

But evil is relentless, and persistent. It blooms anew in every generation.

I see the answer to the problem of violence in the world in a Christian source, the Beatitudes in the New Testament: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Whatever one’s religious tradition—Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.—this principle is true: the answer to finding happiness is to seek the peace and harmony that a loving Father would want for His children.

The problem is that in this generation too few people seem to be seeking the answer. Too many seem to be seeking instead to win. The result: everyone loses.

 

House of Peace, House of Joy

Teg22Fb13_901_sJoy is something that people have a hard time holding in. We saw a lot of it coming out last weekend at the dedication of the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple.

One man I had the opportunity to interview explained it this way. When he was young, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had to travel from Honduras to Mesa, Arizona, to attend a temple. It was a costly, two-week journey by bus. Then there was a temple in Mexico, and it was a journey of several days. The coming of a temple in Guatemala made the trip just a day’s journey. But now—now they can visit the temple every day if they want. And many of them want to do just that.

I can understand. There are two things I enjoy about spending time in a temple. First, as a house of God, it is an extension of His kingdom of heaven, and therefore filled with the peace of God. Second, there is joy in service—knowing I am giving a gift to someone who has passed on from this life and could not enjoy certain blessings without the help of someone living.

For most of my adult life, I have lived where there is a temple close by. Not so for my brothers and sisters in Honduras. I can remember those times when a temple was only a distant dream for most of them. When I served as a missionary here in the mid-1960s, for some of them a trip to the temple meant selling possessions, even sacrificing the tools or Teg22Fb13_888vmeans of their livelihood. Many willingly offered those sacrifices.

Now they can feel the peace and joy of serving in the temple regularly, without being required to pay such a high economic price. All it requires is the broken heart and contrite spirit that God asks of the obedient and penitent.

No wonder they can’t keep their joy inside.

I rejoice with them, and for them.