Of Peace, Love and Joy
Kevin W. Tharp December 2014
As I grow older I am given the opportunity to reflect on many of the mysteries of life. I walk a path that often changes my perspective on the world. Many times in my life I have found myself with thoughts that are completely contradictory to the thoughts of the younger me.
I once was an active poet, writing many poems of which I now have no recollection. But there is one poem that I wrote over 30 years ago that holds truer today than I could have ever imagined.
I used to laugh at people like me
Look at me now
I used to laugh at people like me
It was an early realization of the nature of my own human existence. A recognition that even as a teen I had changed my perspective on some of the big questions of life, and a glimpse into the ever evolving nature of me.
I no longer profess to have the answers, or even a clue about the answers to some of the questions that life presents us. The answers to questions of spirituality and existence elude me.
Why are we here?
What are we supposed to do in this life?
What happens when we die?
But these are the questions my mind finds its way back to again, and again, and again.
Now, as winter sets in, things slow down a little and nature hunkers down until it awakens again in spring. It is a time to think and plan for the coming seasons. My mind settles on the deeper things in life, like Peace, Love, Joy and of course my garden.
Let’s talk about those deeper things that have become a focus of my thoughts. They are not easy to explain, but we’ll keep it simple.
A lot of different meanings here.
Quiet and Tranquility.
Freedom from civil disturbance.
Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards humankind.
On an individual level, I can be at peace with a decision, or at peace with the world. In this way it is an acceptance of the world the way it is. But generally when we talk about peace, we are talking about something belonging to a community or collective.
It is easier to explain what it is not than what it is.
On the collective level, peace is the absence of violence, strife, … tension. I think of Peace as the collective decision to not violate “the others”.
Just because there isn’t war doesn’t mean there is peace. When I am violating or even threatening the tranquility of a community,
I am disturbing the peace.
Peace is illusive because it depends upon groups to get along.
Peace is a gift that we give to each other.
Peace is about We.
An intense feeling of deep affection. I think that love is the strongest, the deepest and the most profound aspect of our spiritual being. At least it is for me.
I was recently asked to define what I meant by love.
If I have to define love for you, this is a sad state of affairs indeed.
But as I thought about it, the closest I could come to defining love in my words was the bonding of two spirits.
There is the love of God, the love of another human, and the love for other creatures. The reality is that love doesn’t have to be reciprocated. I can love you and you not love me.
Under my definition you cannot love chocolate, ((but I love chocolate ))
though you may use that word to describe a deep affection. ((I love chocolate ))
And in my definition you cannot love yourself. ((that is Narcissism))
Or, self-love is the state of self-respect and caring for oneself.
Self-love is your spirit embracing and respecting itself.
I love you. You love me.
Ideally we both love each other. I give my love to you. Love is a thing that I give to you.
Love is about you.
A feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Joy is the most transient, the most changeable and the quickest of the states we have discussed. Joy is a perspective, it is a conscious decision about how I am going to interpret and react to my circumstances.
The pure and simple delight in life and the world I live in.
Each day I make decisions about how I am going to proceed through the day.
Joy is a gift I give myself.
Joy is a gift you give yourself.
In that way, it is like a garden.
Plant kindness and understanding and Joy grows. Fertilize with Love and Peace, and Joy thrives. But you have got to pull the weeds.
Weeds take the energy that Joy needs to grow.
Dig out the hate to make room for joy.
Pull up jealousy and anger by the roots.
Don’t allow prejudice to invade the garden,
it is invasive and will choke out the joy
and may even spread to your neighbors.
Joy is a gift that I give myself
and it makes the world around me more beautiful.
Joy is about me.
We wish you all the joy of life,
but that of course is a decision that you have to make for yourself.