With all of the discord and danger we find, especially in the past two decades of war, terror, oppression and prejudice, I find myself attracted to expressions of peace, more and more every day.
In my present position as the president of a small college, discord inevitably arises as every sentient being conceives their own unique worldview, well, uniquely. Students want to be heard, faculty want to express themselves in the classroom in their own voice, employees want to self-actualize. Everyone wants to be able to live their life, to be honored for their contribution in whatever way is most important to them, and to have a life.
I have found, sitting in my chair, that you cannot make everyone happy all the time. Mostly it is an unpopular position, but one that I took on willingly. I help to hold the space to create healing, peace and opportunity for each individual to grow and become fulfilled. Alone?...no way. As a community, our employees and students manifest as a family, aimed toward support, mutual respect and equity.
Years ago, when my sister’s son first came to them (he was eight, they adopted him), we took a trip up to Pacem In Terris, peacemaker, author and artist Frederick Franck’s non-sectarian healing space in Warwick, New York. We watched the 8 year old who was still learning English (he is from Russia) skipping gleefully up and down the stone steps of the space while his Mom and Dad and I just acclimated ourselves from our outer worlds to this inner space. Pacem is open from May to September every year. Though Franck died in 2006, and his wife Claske Franck passed in 2013, friends and benefactors continue to maintain Pacem. I am not sure how much longer this special place will remain, but I do know that when I stepped into the beautiful cathedral, a deep peace settled over me.
I crave this feeling of ease and placidity. More than ever, we need peace on earth. The space in Warwick, New York is one place where all are welcome, where peace reigns.
I hope that those of us who walk the earth will create our slice of peace wherever we live, work, travel and create. I believe that in this way, we will overcome the culture of fear, anger and terror that causes many to shelter in place, the common term for an emergency preparedness technique for keeping students inside during a terror threat. Many people are beginning to shelter in place in their everyday lives, living in fear and isolation, afraid to trust. This is so sad, but some feel it is the only way they can live.
Let’s create world where shelter in place becomes unnecessary. It truly is up to us, every day.