January 23, 2009

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

2009 challenge: Is a peaceable kingdom possible?

Shirley Vogler MeisterDuring last month’s holidays, my husband, Paul, and I received varied news from friends and relatives we hold dear.

At one point, my St. Bernard grade school friend in St. Louis, Helen (Horvath) McKenna, and I shared through e-mail our concerns for another grade school friend who is suffering from ill health in another state.

At one point, Helen shared this poem with me:

“ ‘Behold’ came a whisper from the wind,
came the calm from the storm and,
as a bough from a broken branch,
mended a shadow from its mourning.
Then a light approached
and sat upon the window sill:
‘Twas Peace that came through
and all was Still.”

The most important word, of course, is “Peace.”

Then, on New Year’s Eve, I received a “Friend to Friend” e-mail from First Friends Meeting not far from my home. Associate pastor Gale Stutz wrote about peace.

I have a deep respect for Quakers (Religious Society of Friends), who foster peace, calm, justice, love, tolerance, understanding—and even a holy sense of humor. All are reflections of Christ.

Gale’s message reminded readers that last year was the 50th anniversary of the well-known peace symbol. I didn’t know that, but I smiled when I realized the peace symbol debuted the year my husband and I were married.

Gale wondered “why human beings have needed to fight for peace almost continuously since the beginning of time [and] why human beings have never really been able to achieve peace in any real sense. … I can’t imagine that was ever God’s intention.”

She noted that in the 50 years since the peace symbol became popular, there have been countless events promoting peace and yet, “Where are we now? Does it really exist anywhere in our world? Has it ever existed?”

There have been countless events in countless locations—and countless articles in the media—promoting peace in the half century that the peace symbol has been prominent. Gale wonders if peace really exists anywhere in the world. I wonder, too!

She also called attention to the beautiful song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin with Me,” emphasizing the importance of “Let it begin with me” and “Let us remember our purpose as children of God to promote a more loving world. … May our differences and disagreements become opportunities for understanding and growth this year.”

For reflection, read Isaiah 11:1-9 then check the Internet for “Peaceable Kingdom” and “Edward Hicks, 1780-1849.” You will then understand why!

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

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