A Season of Peace . . . And Yet

Waking Point

by Helen Noakes

And in despair I bowed my head/‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said/‘For hate is strong and mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good will to men.’”Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—(Weekly Hubris)—12/6/10—Peace: that eludes us as a race. It seems that from the moment that humankind began keeping histories, peace has been much prized but never achieved globally.

Christian carols extol its virtues and beg God for its blessing . . . and yet.

Rumi wrote poems, beautiful, heartrending poems that inform us of its efficacy in communing with The Beloved. “Beloved” —that’s how he referred to the Divine.

The exquisitely spare haiku of the Edo Period express the delicate resonance of peace. Like the deep echoing sound of the evening bell at the Shinto Shrine near my house in Japan, peace settles the soul, gives us room to breathe.

The lights are twinkling on Union Square here and now, harbingers of a season of peace . . . and yet.

Somewhere in the world, guns are blazing, battles are being fought, people are made to suffer because of their gender, race, religious or political beliefs. I wonder why that should continue to be a part of the human experience. Why can’t we decide to change? Why can’t we make peace the norm, the accepted method of living?

Our consumer culture at Union Square, SFShoppers rush about clutching brightly colored bags stuffed with gifts. I wonder if they might consider a greater gift, that of peace?

It doesn’t fit in a bag, it’s too big, but it weighs absolutely nothing. And while it has no dollar price tag, it does require payment of greater value—mindfulness, compassion, fearlessness.

I fervently hope that wars, strife and intolerance will end one day, but know that until and unless each of us decides to make it so, it will not happen.

Vince Gill’s lyrics provide us with the path, “Let there be peace on earth/And let it begin with me.” It’s so simple. If every “me” in the world chose to create this metamorphosis, then the “me” would change to “we” . . . and think what a peaceful world this would become!

Happy Holidays to you all. I wish you, your families, friends, and loved ones, joy, fulfillment, love and peace.

Helen Noakes is a playwright, novelist, writer, art historian, linguist, and Traditional Reiki Master, who was brought up in and derives richness from several of the world’s great traditions and philosophies. She believes that writing should engage and entertain, but also inform and inspire. She also believes that because the human race expresses itself in words, it is words, in the end, that will show us how very similar we are and how foolish it is to think otherwise. (Author Head Shot Augment: René Laanen.)


  • eve akel

    Ah Helen, you are right again, but in my brief 72 years I have found what the great philosophers meant when they spoke of peace. It was never meant to be shared…..Peace is what you find for you and your soul. The shoppers with the bright colored bags have peace because they has been able to buy what they want. The soldier in the foxhole brings forth his memories of home and finds his peace for that minute. It’s there, but it is never shared….It’s private and individual and free.
    That’s peace, it’s yours, mine and your neighbors’, but has never belonged to the neighborhood. So dear friend, Peace to you!!!!!

  • eboleman-herring

    Eve, when you wrote, “That’s peace: it’s yours, mine and your neighbors’, but has never belonged to the neighborhood,” you told the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and with such amazing economy! In fact (see my very latest column), I think we can only THINK locally AND act locally. Fifty-nine years of beating this head against stones, but I HEAR you, Sister: we have only our own heads, our own “enlightenment,” our own growth, or its opposite. Everyone else really IS on her and his own. Peace to you, as well. I’ve got to stop bleating, like Cassandra amongst the Greeks. Who’s to say I see the present, or future, any more clearly than the “Greeks,” anyway? Namaste, Elisavet

  • Helen Noakes

    Thanks for writing in, Elizabeth. While I agree with both you and Eve that peace begins within us, and that we are solely responsible for that which takes place within ourselves, I believe that there is something missing. We are energy, and whatever we are, we transmit to those around us and they to others, etc. By finding peace within ourselves, we are creating an aura of peace that is available to everyone who comes in contact with us. Consider how people feel when in the presence of the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, or the ordinary person in the street who has found that place of stillness within him or herself. We FEEL their light, their fulfillment. Perhaps it is time to heal ourselves and others without ranting. The quiet, steady voice seems to work for the icons I named above. We are as responsible for the peace in the world around us as we are for the peace within ourselves.
    My love to you both.