Peace, What Is It?

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My first retreat for peace generators this weekend was a beautiful gift to myself and others. I will post another event in April to support all those who want to explore the nature of peace and could use a bit of restorative stillness and nature connection in these roiling times. Everyone present receives a free copy of my own nature connection exercises. We also share self-care practices that I compile to share with whoever is present. Stay tuned.

After a search for writings on the topic of peace and finding nearly all to be war poems (does peace need the duality of war to exist?), this one stood out among them all and raised its beautiful hand. This poem will be read at each of my gatherings. If you click on the title, you can enjoy more of Denise Levertov’s poems over at Poetry Foundation. A bit of research later, I discovered this poet’s grave is in the same cemetery as my grandparents, a few yards away. I will be making a pilgrimage soon to honor them all.

A voice from the dark called out,
             ‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
                                   But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
                                       A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
                                              A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
                        A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.
Denise Levertov, “Making Peace” from Breathing the Water. Copyright © 1987 by Denise Levertov

About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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