On a Beach Walk: #58 (Quiet)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today I think about quiet – that calming word signifying no sound. Quiet – a time and place that questionably exists. Quiet – when there seems to be little noise, action, or activity – a time of still – an important personal time – They are all quiet.

The sea’s roar is not quiet – yet it can be the white noise for solitude. The sea is never quiet –  never still – but it can be a quiet for calming the mind. The wind whistling by my ears and the waves clapping as they wash ashore – yet, I can hear the popping of small bubbles on my feet, Yes –  walking on the beach can be a place of quiet for listening to nature and for quieting the mind.

Our mind is seemingly never quiet. It may be removed from one’s regular routine, but thoughts continuously race – and frequently bouncing between subjects, which is far from quiet. Sometimes when I walk the beach, my mind is like the perpetual activity of the sea.

Quiet is like an open meadow or standing on a mountain top overlooking serenity – but it is not void of sound – yet the mind may slow down to enjoy the relative quiet of the moment.

Life today is not only like a perpetual motion machine, it seems to be going faster and faster – yet quiet is an important mental health club – a time, a place where one can enjoy the spirit of reflection, imagination, or just rest.

Quiet is a reason some meditate or practice yoga. Others find quiet while jogging or riding a bicycle. Others find it in music, reading, or sitting by a crackling fire.

Quiet is being on the road that goes nowhere – a time away from the noise of life.

The roar of the waves can resemble societal noise. From the rambling anger and tremors of political pundits trading political soundbites over seeking meaningful solutions to real problems to the mountains that are really mole hills, they are far from quiet.

The news focuses on negative events of the day is far from quiet – therefore, mirroring the sounds of busy traffic.

The roaring waves resemble the roundtable discussion where being heard is more important than listening. It is in quiet that we learn to listen to ourselves and ponder what others have said.

The roar of the waves is the metaphor for now. Think of the immediacy of voice mail, call waiting, call forwarding, texting, email, and other modern technologies. It is on of these beach walks that I typically go without my phone – a respite from the immediacy of today’s world.

The sounds of the beach serve as a white noise. While my walk is absent of crowds, the active water delivers an inner stillness to the mind and soul – a time when the mind can both relax and focus – yes – a time of quiet. A time of solitude. A time of resting the mind. Even a time for focusing the mind.

Quiet is a time or a place where one finds peace and tranquility. Away from daylight’s activity, the quiet of night provides twinkling moments of reverence under the sparkles of the stars and the glistening moon.

Quiet is a place for the still without noise or voices – yet also the muted, the faint, indistinct, the inaudible, or the whispered.

While cruising in Alaska, I remember with its night still being like dusk, seeing the outlines of the mountains that were dark shadows with only a very rare sighting of an electric light. That’s also quiet.

I also recall one morning when cruising the Danube. All alone on the top deck, I could hear the splashes of water as the ship moved as well as the constant breeze – yet it was quiet enough to hear the morning birds in the distance. That’s also quiet.

I enjoy walking into a church where I am alone – that quiet sense of awe and wonder. Libraries are another place of reverence with a hush driven by the power of the knowledge found in the printed words that are bounded by covers.

Quiet – hush, still, faint, peace, tranquility, reverence, pleasant, soothing, restful – Not only are all quiet, quiet is a reason I like walking the beach. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

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On Peace

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An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. (Mahatma Gandhi, Indian)

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. (Nelson Mandela, South African)

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. (John F. Kennedy, American)

A peace is of the nature of a conquest; for then both parties nobly are subdued, and neither party loser. (William Shakespeare, British)

We make war that we may live in peace. (Aristotle, Greek)

If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. (Desmond Tutu, South African)

The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned. (Dag Hammarskjold, Swede)

Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, American)

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right. (Confucius, Chinese)
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. (Albert Einstein, German American)

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood. (Martin Luther King, Jr., American)

Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war. (Winston Churchill, British)

Peace is a state of quiet and tranquility. Peace is a harmony between people. Peace is mutual concordance between governments.

Some of us see humans as one, thus see everlasting peace as desirable quest, which is much more than a point in time, but a desirable end point. But history has countless reminders of tranquility followed by violence, and the cycle repeats … peace follows war, thus leading to another war.

Serenity to turmoil, quiet to loud, calm to tumult are only a few of the terms describing human events. Arnold Sherman wrote Song of Peace for handbells memorializing another event – the Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995. As you listen, the harsh discord of violence is evident – as is the calmness of peace. Coincidentally, I finalized this post while watching the moving dedication of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Peace to you.

On Love or Fear?

Some preachers deliver a message of fear through fire and brimstone – thus many in the flock fear God. Since that is not my background, I have often pondered how that message conflicts with my view as I see God through a different lens.

I see a God of love, life, and peace.

I see a God of trust, compassion, joy, glory, and endless mercy.

I see a God who is full of infinite wisdom, forgiveness, grace, and goodness.

I see a God who is a firm foundation, an anchor for life, a positive beacon of hope, a guiding light, and a sunshine of everlasting life.

I simply see a God that is good – so how can I be fearful?

On Terror and Peace through Music

I enjoy sharing my journey with our handbell choir, and this weekend will be our final contribution before breaking for the summer. Interestingly, Song of Peace was originally written for the 2001 CORD Handbell Festival held in a place realizing both terror and peace – Oklahoma City.

To better understand the piece, read the following from composer Arnold B. Sherman, and then enjoy the St. Olaf College rendition of this powerful selection about society.

Song of Peace is a reflection of the way the world has treated peace almost from the beginning of time. The gentle round DONA NOBIS PACEM is given a rather harsh, angular treatment, representing the needless violence and senseless acts of terrorism that plague the world almost on a daily basis. An original, lament-like melody is interspersed with the round, echoing the psalmist’s cry, “How long, O Lord, how long?”

The dissonance builds and rises, and finally stops. Out of the cacophony comes the round once again, this time in a much more harmonious setting, signifying our eternal hope that peace will come on day for all of humankind.

PS: The joint choirs at our festival this past March played  Song of Peace. To me, the highlight was the audience of 110 singing the round at the end, which (unfortunately) this version doesn’t.

We still have the occasional rough spot in rehearsal, but hopefully we’ll get it right this weekend. Enjoy Song of Peace.