Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

I bet you think you know the answer to that question, right?  Our whole approach to life is the practice of peace: being peace, building peace, preaching peace.

So why am I feeling a little bit like I am at war? At war with the stress of the pandemic, the resulting sense of chaos, or lack of direction, the uncertainty, anxiety, and tension of sheltering in place all the time.  As part of our Assembly Chapter Planning Committee, I’m deeply embedded in the processes we need to create in order to form a spirit-led direction for the next six years and plan an election process that will truly discern who might lead us into the future as Dominican Sisters of Peace. A very demanding task!

NOT ONLY THAT, the eruption of racial violence, Black Lives Matter protests and my own awakening to the long list of ways I enjoy the privilege of being a white person has been heavy on my heart. ON TOP OF THAT, we are getting close to election day and I am quite concerned that we will have to endure another four years of rising division, a President who cannot tell the difference between lies and truth, and who wraps himself in a pseudo “pro-life” posture. In my opinion.

It’s enough to drive you crazy. It feels like everything is falling apart.

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist monk, wrote a beautiful book: “When Things Fall Apart.” I’ve had it quite a while now and just went back to it to seek out her wisdom once again.

She offered me this wonderful, balanced perspective: “Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy… Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.”

It’s the not knowing part that speaks to me, as a person who likes to know, to understand, to have a plan and a mission. My dad was a great problem-solver. He believed that if you kept working at understanding something that was broken, you could eventually figure out how to fix it. He could fix anything: electrical, plumbing, motors, washing machines, bicycles.  I come by my urge to problem-solve from him.  And he never went to war over a broken pipe or flat tire.

I’m trying to peacefully be comfortable with that not knowing part. It’s a new way of practicing peace for me.

Dear God, I need your help to embrace this peaceful way of not knowing. Yes, in your wisdom, things do fall apart and then they come back together again. Help me to have room in myself to not know when or how we will emerge from chaos, from pandemic, from social conflict and division. Help me to recognize when I am at war with all that is falling apart. Help me to be a person who practices peace in all things.






Posted in Weekly Word

14 responses to “Am I going to practice peace, or am I going to war?

  1. Thank you so much! I am feeling the same and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I too pray for the peace that comes from letting go and doing only what I can one moment at a time. Peace. Vote 2020- 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing this reflection. This reminds me that I can be at peace even when there is so much I cannot know or control.

  3. This is a late response, Anne, since I am just now getting to read your blog. However, your insight about trying to be ok with not knowing gave me comfort and something to keep remembering.

  4. I hear you, Anne! (and I resonate with so much of what you stated.) Thank you for putting it “out there” as an important reminder.


    1. Thank you, Karen. When I became a Dominican I did not stop being a US citizen and thus need to discern how I participate in democracy. I was simply expressing my point of view about what we are facing and remain deeply concerned about our common future as a country.

  5. I believe what you are raising, the inability to know what to do right now, is a key but highly challenging aspect of peace-making, Anne. Thanks for raising it!

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