This morning I heard a song that made me think of a very specific time in my life, a time when I was first starting to come to what I refer to as my “full” spiritual awareness. One might assume that it was a magical time, but, in fact, it was more a time of facing harsh realties. To understand the full potential of the spiritual, I have learned, one must first understand and accept the crushing limitations of the temporal.
Today, I find myself in that same place again, my awareness expanded by the current events of the world, my understanding of the way things are here on Earth made painfully clear.
The original “epiphany” happened three days after the war started in Iraq in March, 2003. For about a month prior I had been a regular participant in peace marches and in anything having anything to do with opposing the war. There had been a week’s worth of protest events planned outside the Federal Building here in Seattle and the event I participated in this time was a poetry reading happening admist the protesting activities, which seemed like a metaphorical eye of the hurricane since that protesting had become anything but peaceful. The poetry was wonderful and inspirational; the choir that sang braved the late winter chill to give those of us in attendance the gift of such beautiful song. I felt privileged to be there.
As the event ended, I started to make my way back down the block. The scene was such that the anti-war protesters lined my side of the street, complete with signs and assorted regalia and on the opposite side of the street were the pro-war supporters who had come to protest the anti-war protesters. It was a curious sight to be sure. Both sides had become more and more heated in their yelling and screaming at each other just since I’d been there. I wondered how much more heated they would become as the days went on.
In retrospect I realize that they were a perfect microcosm for the two warring factions of America – the red states and the blue states, if you will. They looked and felt like their own civil war. And as the years have gone on, I have come to realize that this is how we will tear ourselves apart. This is the way that it will begin. This is the unavoidable reality that we are hurling ourselves toward.
That day was when I knew had to let the anti-war movement go. I could only participate in it so long as it was a peaceful demonstration but my conscience said to me that no one in this debate really understood peace and no one in this screaming match across 3rd Avenue could hear or understand a word the other was saying. This was the way of this world, I realized. Anger and screaming, people losing their tempers and no one listening; peace will never be created in such a place.
I gathered my coat around me, as if to protect myself from one of the harshest realities of life on this planet, and quietly, sadly left. When I got to my car, a song from the CD I’d been listening to came on and I marveled at how profoundly it fit the moment. On my route home, I had to drive down the street where the protesting was. Passing the protesters, the song fit the scene – brutal, harsh. It told a truth about this life that I have not fully been willing to accept until now; that the peace I have sought and have been working for all of my life will not happen on this planet.
My focus, now, must be on creating peace on a small scale, among the like-minded individuals who seek more than just what the shallowness of this temporal life offers - people who think big but know that small actions are what make things happen. This will be my shelter from the storm that will grow and rage outside. I must be the peace that I want to create. I have to think beyond the here and now to the spiritual realm; the place where peace can be fully realized.
“War Within a Breath” ~ Rage Against the Machine (Lyrics)