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"It is not enough that we learn to unmake war. We must learn to remake peace." ~ Mimi Lenox
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Friday, November 04, 2011Dona Nobis Pacem ~ The Cabinet
Something led me to the potting shed this morning. So, I put on some leaf-walking shoes to follow the muse.
It is clear and beautiful in Bloggingham today with a bit of breeze and the sound of falling acorns. Leaves are changing faster than I'd like for it's only a matter of time before they lay bare and naked the strength of my trees, losing their protection and grace.
For weeks now I've thought of spring. Remembering scenes in my life that happened - only - in springtime. I wondered why. The images so strong as if I were re-living them again. I could smell spring. Touch spring. In my chilly foggy forest surroundings, a season I love most of all, I needed, I suppose, to feel spring.
So on my way to the potting shed I stopped at my patch of wild mums and descended upon them with the camera lens. They were waiting like old friends to give me a breath of spring.
But back to the muse. The shed the shed shed. I must get to the shed.
Just inside the door of the little building in my grove of trees and overgrown wildness...is this
It belonged to my Papa. It was his tool cabinet. It hung on the wall of the garage where he made things and sawed things and stored things in it; including the secret stash of chewing tobacco in a can in the corner beside nails and rags and oilcans. He made picture frames and tables, stools and odd furniture pieces. I made mud pies and tried to leave him be while he measured and thought hard. It was a steady stream of stirring inedible cuisine (some things have not changed, my friends), him spitting in the can while I tried not to look, sawdust, the swing of the hammer and the sound of my grandmother's voice trying to shout above the bzzzz bzzzz saw that supper was ready and we'd better wash up.
He'd scoop me up in his grease covered arms and let me do my favorite thing of all: I got to close the wooden latch.
Opening it today without the benefit of hugs and the promise of butter biscuits was bittersweet. But something had led me to the shed today and I aimed to open it.
Hmmmm...not much left in here except spider webs and dirt. A very old can of something to do with grease, some iron rings, a few nails...and a brand new water hose head I bought last spring lying on the bottom shelf.
How did that get in there? I didn't put it there.
At that moment a large gust of wind starting spinning Bloggingham's trees above the A-line roof of the shed, branches swaying heavily above me soaring and tall in the blue sky while the bam bam bam of acorn bullets descended upon the roof at the same time above my head. Yow! It scared me so I ran out the door. Find the wild mum patch, Mimi! Mums aren't scary. Don't you go back in that building. That was a sign I tell ya, a sign!
Go back in, silly, it's just the wind.
OK. But only because you're a droopy mum and need cheering up. I'll go back.
I crushed a few acorns with my leaf-walking shoes and went back inside. Reaching into the deep storage shelf on the bottom, I gingerly removed the out-of-place water spout and laid it elsewhere. But what I saw underneath startled me so that I ran out again. This time stopping in the yard to put my face in hands, tears on my face with memories of dusty nails flying into walnut, pine and oak, now pounding in my mind as I wondered....
How did THAT get in there?
It was Papa's hammer.
All tools near and far were lost in the divorce, gathered from this cabinet and absconded with the swish of a legal pen. I never saw this before. His hammer. His hammer. How could I have missed it? His hammer. Why hadn't I seen it before? How long had it been there? No logical answers could I find, even after a phone call to said absconder-of-the-tools. He didn't remember it being there either. "I'm sure I cleaned everything out of that cabinet," he said. No matter. It's peace day ya know. It doesn't matter how it got there. But I have no doubt I was supposed to find it.
We might need a hammer you know.
To be builders of peace it isn't enough to declare it so, will it so, pray it so or blog it so. In between the words, which indeed are powerful ideas and mantras, we have an arsenal of tools at our disposal just begging to be utilized for good. Some have been lying around for years but all we want to do is talk about them. We're too busy sometimes to actually pick up a nail and pick a spot - any spot - to inhabit peacefully in our world. To make it better for someone we don't even know. We don't see the connectedness of lack in one person bringing the whole planet into a state of perpetual lack. And how one area of unrest brings the whole planet into jeopardy. Cause I'm here to tell ya...it's easy to co-habitate peacefully with people you love. But it's darn near impossible to build peace with perfect strangers across a ragged world of war.
Yet peace builders we must be with weapons of saws and plowshares.
And let's throw in some beauty, shall we?
It isn't enough to elevate people in dire need with food and clothing and somewhere-out-of-a-cardboard-box. They need - we all need - artists and writers and painters and dancers to lift our spirits to a place far beyond the basic tenets of existence. I never saw my grandfather's day end without a book in his hand, a song playing on the stereo
or a Spring in his smile.
In the meantime...we need sowers of seeds for crops of food and medicine, laboring hands to shingle roofs, diggers of wells and drillers of land, mattocks and shovelers, sweepers of oceans and singers to soothe those who can't understand this peace you say in front of their hungry children. We have to pick them up - these building tools - and make them happen in our homes and communities before we can expect anyone to buy into a word we're saying on the subject of peace. Then and only then can we call ourselves peacemakers. In my own personal space of planet Earth I will hold myself to that standard. I will try. I will try. But I don't believe it will take the world as long to arrive at the inevitable wisdom of peace as it did to lunge into the abyss of universal war. It seems to me that the tide of consciousness and awareness is turning.
But it won't last unless we get out of the realm of consciousness-raising and into the physical realm of working the work with more than manifestos. You all know how firmly I believe that words are powerful - but they are not the only tools we have. I have no trouble nailing my purpose to the plate with words. It is who I am. It's a bit more daunting to get my skirt dirty with your problems when I have a world of my own.
Have you ever noticed that in the cold dead winter of warring with someone, there comes a time when you just get tired of warring and you wonder, "Isn't there a better way?" Do I think there are people hellbent on destruction for the sake of destruction? Yes. Do I see and understand that not everyone in the world wants to go searching for spring? Yes. But I have to hope that somehow deep down even in the hearts of evil men lies a human seed of desire for survival. And if they can't reach peace for any other reason than that, then so be it. Because we're on a collision course that peace treaties and scribbled sanctions can't fix. The heart of man has to change...and that is nothing akin to changing our minds. It goes as deep as long-grained wood. That brand of human evolution requires that we sometimes allow the other person to open the door and sometimes we must allow them to lift us up to reach the door.
When my grandfather began a new project, he first chose the strongest of materials, the most sturdy wood. He knew that to lay a foundation on anything else was a waste of time. He knew that building things without the proper tools was a recipe for destruction. Then he threw in his ingredients: Solitude. Contemplation. Pride. Patience. Hard work. And a sense of service. He didn't build things to sell. Giving them away gave him great pleasure.
I was reminded by a friend today that it's good to use the tools of our fathers and grandfathers. There is something organic about it. I hope as the world churns and turns toward a new season, that we don't discard the hard-won sacrifices made before our time nor the wisdom those experiences bring to the table of peace building.
It is not enough that we learn to unmake war.
We must learn to remake peace.
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