“But in this season it is well to reassert that the hope of mankind rests in faith. As man thinketh, so he is. Nothing much happens unless you believe in it, and believing there is hope for the world is a way to move toward it.” (Gladys Taber)
Peace on Earth. Good will toward men.
Like festive greenery, silver bells, or candy canes, these words have come to define the holiday season. We sing them in carols, scribble them in Christmas cards, read them aloud in church.
In this season of love, joy and miracles, PEACE — what we as human beings claim to cherish most — feels ever more elusive.
Each day, as we hear of yet another natural disaster, mass shooting, racially motivated atrocity, or act of domestic violence, our hearts break a little more, and we question everything we do and believe in. What makes sense in a world that seems to be falling apart, when those who lack a moral compass can wield such power? How can some be led so far beyond the limits of human decency?
Moreover, how can we steady our faith and resolve, hold onto hope in the face of adversity and uncertainty?
In her powerful, inspiriting poem “Amazing Peace,” Maya Angelou speaks of Christmas as “the halting of hate time.” Though she wrote the poem especially for the White House Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony back in 2005, her words are even more relevant today. How can we look “beyond complexion and see community”?
This year, and in all the years to come, let us wholeheartedly embrace the Peace of Christmas — each to each, with kindness, comfort, and compassion, lighting the way for others with the golden rule as our guiding principle. A simple tenet, yet profound and far reaching because we have the power to practice it every single day. Even when faced with the incomprehensible, we must continue to believe in the goodness of humanity. If we stand together, love, the strongest emotion a human being is capable of experiencing, will prevail.
AMAZING PEACE: A Christmas Poem
by Maya Angelou
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.
HOPE IS BORN AGAIN IN THE FACES OF CHILDREN
How do children envision peace — a world without nuclear weapons, wars, or fear? Here are some of my favorite entries from the 2012 United Nations Art for Peace Contest. We see fresh hope for the future in the creativity, imagination and passion of these young artists. We have much to learn from them, and we must work harder to give them the kind of world they wish for and deserve.
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Here is a video of Maya Angelou reading her poem in Washington, D.C.:
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The lovely and talented Tara Smith is hosting the Roundup at A Teaching Life. Check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere today and have a good weekend. Be kind, keep the faith, and never lose hope. Peace be with you always.
Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.