One of my favorite songs during the holidays is “Let There Be Peace On Earth” written in 1955 by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller. From the time I was young, the combination of music and lyrics in this song stopped me in my tracks and, most times, reduced me to a blubbering mess until the last note faded away. The central theme of working together as one connected and loving world to bring peace to one another is not new or unique, but it remains one of the most elusive, most pollyanna, and most difficult if not impossible realities for human beings to achieve. Why?
Animals do it all the time. How many internet videos have we seen of a deer playing with a dog, a giraffe helping an ostrich, a mother cat feeding motherless puppies and a Labrador swimming with an elephant? And I think we all remember Christian the lion who ran to his human friends and hugged them lovingly, in the wild, long after they had parted ways.
In my upcoming novel, The Vessels, the themes of peace, love and forgiveness run deep – not to preach, but to practice. This inspired story involves humans who become Vessels to serve spirits returning to this life because they need to right wrongs, find or give forgiveness and fix things broken from their former lives. And it leads them everywhere and anywhere in the world. Spirits know no boundaries or borders, and they use bias for greater good. A young Indian/Native American girl gets the Spirit of a Japanese Grandmother who survived the bombing of Nagasaki and needs to make peace with her granddaughter – a nuclear scientist. A teenage fugitive boy gets the spirit of a high school girl who needs to save her innocent boyfriend from the blame of her death. An African-American cop gets the Spirit of a white woman who committed suicide and needs to find forgiveness and restore love to her family in the deep south. As with most things in life, not ever Spirit is what it seems and not every Vessel survives. But the crux of the story wraps around the challenging, dangerous and nearly impossible obstacles the Vessels and Spirits must overcome on their journeys, and the power of peace and love that takes place after, even if only inside one person or home. No one is the same when the Spirits leave, including them, and the world is better because of it.
What would it be like for us to do the same in everyday life? To be the Vessels to our own Spirits and create small selfless journeys of hope, love, forgiveness and serving others all around us–in our homes, workplaces, gyms, schools, stores and other elements of life? Bloom where we’re planted, so to speak. It’s hard. In fact, it seems impossible sometimes to be forgiving and loving, even to those we really love, when anger feels so good. To bite our tongues when hurtful words taste so good. To open our arms to others in need, when it’s so much easier to close doors, build walls and live without them in fear. To lift others up in the world, when striking them down brings revenge, profit or other personal gain. To be caring and kind when jaded, cynical and judgmental are much more effortless.
Much like with the Vessels, peace starts one day at a time, one small journey at a time, one helping hand, hug and act of compassion at a time. Whether during the holidays, or year round, peace begins with us, it begins with me. Let us “take each moment and live each moment with peace eternally.”