How often we repeat the words attributed to St. Francis…..to make us an instrument of God’s peace?  But what does that mean in the context of day-to-day living? Does it mean we refuse to bear arms? That we withdraw from all wars and battles? That we turn the other cheek? That when someone posts something ugly on Facebook we make a comment that points out the flaw(s) in the post’s logic? Does it mean we never express anger or discord?

In my search for answers to these and similar questions, I have spent the last two hours “surfing” through various articles and excerpts regarding Gandhi’s viewpoints.   Two specific sources were helpful to me in my search for what it means to be an instrument of peace. From these articles I determined that to be an instrument of peace one needs to view all of life as “one entity”,  be centered in love expressed in service, and that peace can be attained first by changing one’s inner self as reflected in changed thoughts and actions. In other words,  spiritual love becomes the essential driving force of both one’s thoughts and actions.

Which brings me back full-circle to the wisdom expressed in St. Francis’ prayer……when you consider the concepts voiced in that prayer you are essentially describing how to be an instrument of peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace! That where there is hatred, I may bring love. That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness. That where there is discord, I may bring harmony. That where there is error, I may bring truth. That where there is doubt, I may bring faith. That where there is despair, I may bring hope. That where there are shadows, I may bring light. That where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted. To understand, than to be understood. To love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.”

p. 833, The Book of Common Prayer

Helpful Reading/Cited Articles:

The first was an article by Nathan Funk found in  (Gandhi Marg, October-December 2002,Volume.24, No.3):

Transformation: Peace through the Power of Love

The final approach to peacemaking investigated in the peace paradigms course is the transformation paradigm, a paradigm that focuses on the centrality of education, cultural change, and spirituality in all genuine attempts to make peace a reality in daily life. From the standpoint of the transformation paradigm, peacemaking is not only an effort to end war, remove structural violence, or establish the presence of external value conditions. It is also a profoundly internal process, in which the transformation of the individual becomes a metaphor for and instrument of broader changes. Transformation, then, involves the cultivation of a peaceful consciousness and character, together with an affirmative belief system and skills through which the fruits of “internal disarmament” and personal integration may be expressed. Transformation unites doing with being, task with experience. Inner freedom is felt in the midst of action, and sacred ideals are personalized for application by the individual. Peaceful behaviour is learned behaviour, and each individual is a potential and needed contributor to a culture of peace.

From the standpoint of the transformation paradigm, spirituality implies insight into the deep interconnectedness and sacredness of all levels and compartments of reality. It is innate to the person, and may be understood as a universal human “attempt to grow in sensitivity to self, to others, to non-human creations and to God” that recognizes and seeks to accommodate the presence of the divine in all actions and relations. Recognition of this divine presence and claim begets spontaneous loyalty, which cannot be restricted by boundaries of religion, race, class, or gender. This universal loyalty, in turn, inspires actions born of loving commitment to the wholeness and integrity of creation. The personal has become the political in the most creative and inclusive sense possible, as we seek to make public life reflect non-partisan spiritual value. We become present in the moment, yet responsible for a shared and hopeful future inspired by the injunction, “If you want peace, be peace. Be an instrument of peace.”

accessed t/22/13 at http://mkgandhi.org/nonviolence/peace%20paradigms.htm

 

The second helpful article (Kapur, 2012) is best summarized in its’ abstract:

Religion gave meaning and direction to the lives of Mahatma Gandhi and

Martin Luther King, Jr.; it inspired their belief in the unity of life and

commitment to the way of love. Service to humanity was part and parcel of

their religion. The deeper they delved into serving society, the more they grew

in their spiritual awareness. In the process, they became less self-centered and

more spirit-centered. Their vision of a nonviolent social order was based on the

assumption that individual transformation and social transformation are

interrelated. Their lives are a demonstration of the fact that personal and social

transformation are interconnected and interdependent

Kapur, S. 2012,  Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Liberation of self and society,  Gandhi Marg Quarterly Journal of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, 34, p. 5.

accessed May 22, 2013 at

http://www.mkgandhi.org/ebks/Gandhi%20Marg_April_June2012.pdf)

 

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