September 28, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Longing for godly peace again and again

Shirley Vogler MeisterWhen our 7-year-old grandson, Sam, visits from another state, he brings favorite books with him.

He also looks forward to reading or having me read to him other books kept here. One of his favorites is P is for Peace Garden: A North Dakota Alphabet written by Roxane B. Salonen and published by Sleeping Bear Press.

Each alphabet letter features something special about that state. Even I never get tired of the topics, the history or the illustrations by Joanne Yardley. I especially appreciate the title because I consider myself a peacenik.

Unfortunately, I was surprised to learn that Webster’s New World Dictionary states that “peacenik” is usually considered a hostile word. Why? Because peace demonstrations can turn volatile, which is the opposite of what peace is. So perhaps it’s better to say that “I am a peacemaker.”

Peacemakers promote conflict resolution, law and order, absence of mental and physical conflict, harmony, serenity, security, reconciliation and so much more.

Christ promised in his Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of God” (Mt 5:9). This is one of his Beatitudes.

Peace, of course, starts in the home with parents, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers, etc., being good examples in whatever ways which are age-appropriate for children.

Peace—or the lack of peace—begins with family, but also needs to be supported and promoted in school and scouting groups and, most of all, through churches.

During their childhood, my three daughters would often ask me what I wanted as a gift for special occasions. I usually responded with “peace.” They knew I meant it—and they still do.

The last time I read P is for Peace Garden with Sam, I began thinking of putting a peace garden on our property.

Then when 18-year-old Ziggy—our best cat ever—died, I again contemplated the idea since he certainly added peace to our home. Through the Holy Spirit, this will be my autumn project. The garden will be a place for memories, prayer and meditation with the hope that peaceful calm can continue growing into all areas of life.

Salonen, who is Catholic, lives in North Dakota with her husband, Troy, and their five children. Her first book was First Salmon, published by Boyds Press, which is about a Native American boy in the Pacific Northwest. Salonen has Native American roots. More information can be found on her Web site at

I would like every state to feature a peace garden similar to the beautiful International Peace Garden in the Turtle Mountains on the border of North Dakota and the Canadian Province of Manitoba.

Even better would be having godly peace growing in every human heart!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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