Making Peace


This is a steel rimmed wagon-wheel I reclaimed from the bush. I set it up against this spruce tree over ten years ago. Over the years I placed rocks at the wheel’s base; the rocks are part of larger rocks that line the fire pit. Many seasons of fires have made them brittle and they keep splitting and I kept adding the pieces to the base of the wagon-wheel. The spaces between the rocks are filled annually with spruce cone scales, dropped by squirrels. This has become my cairn of peace.

My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.
I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.  Psalm 120

I’m trying to imagine what would happen if everyone in the world, at the same moment, would renounce violence. What if those asleep would awaken, those awake would put down what they are doing, and all would renounce violence?

What if those in armies, those leading armies, those in corporations, those leading corporations, those in government, those in unions, those who sweep, those who till, those who jet, those who genuflect, those who ramble or scramble, those who code, paint, sculpt, scribble—everyone, everywhere at once—would stand and renounce violence?

And now when I write this out I feel foolish. It seems so hopeless, so ideal, so impossible as to be silly, impossibly naïve .

But when I thought of this at three in the morning, you know that time when things seem twice as ghostly and lost and horribly weighty, things had inexplicably flipped, and everything seemed twice as hopeful, twice as beautiful, and contagiously possible.

But now, in this oh so sober morning, I recognize the hard labour of peace; the need for resisting violence of any form; the requirement of my own daily cadence of peace. For as Denise Levertov indicates in “Making Peace,” we dream and imagine peace only as far as we ourselves begin rehearsing the language of peace.

Through the leavening of daily acts of kindnesses, in themselves small prayers, comes the peaceable realm. 

by Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
“The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.”

But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

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