Last week, I had the honor of speaking at the local Interfaith Celebration of Peace organized by Unity Comox Valley. The theme was, “Tell Me About Peace”. It was a wonderful event, with speakers from the Aboriginal, Buddhist, Baha’i, and Jewish communities, as well as myself. This is the speech I gave.
That’s an interesting question. Logically, my mind’s first answer is simply, the absence of war, or the absence of fighting. But that more accurately answers the question, what is peace NOT?
As a Pagan and a Wiccan, I don’t really have one set holy scripture to turn to for answering such questions. I look to mythology, and nature, and I turn to my own heart.
For me, I experience peace in the early hours of the morning, when I meditate. Peace is that quiet place inside myself, when I connect with my body and my soul, my guides and my Goddess. When I am fully grounded in the Earth, and fully connected to the stars.
Peace is a walk in the forest, listening to the robins and the ravens, and the babble of the creek, and the wind in the trees. It is being connected with the natural world all around me.
Peace is a walk on the beach, listening to the waves as they gently rush, or loudly crash, on the shore. It is wading in the water, and watching the crabs and fish, and digging my toes in the sand.
Peace is sitting in my home, drinking a cup of tea, and listening to my children laugh and yell as they play outside. Sometimes it is looking up when everyone is working on their own project, on their own devices and just being comfortable being in the same space together.
Peace is laying in bed with my beloved on a gray morning, listening to the rain fall on the rooftop, and softly sharing our lives with each other.
Outside of myself and my family, peace looks a little different. Peace is acceptance of each others’ differences. We may have different colored skin or different genders, different body shapes and sizes and abilities, different ways of seeing our selves and the world, different opinions, different food preferences or sexual preferences, different ways of connecting with the Divine. Peace is being able to BE different, to be able to say, “I am Wiccan,” or “I am bisexual,” or “I am Aboriginal” (not all of those are ways I identify myself) and NOT be afraid of what others will say or do because of that difference.
We are blessed to live in a country that is not at war (some might say it’s peaceful). We are blessed to live in a time and a place that has not seen bombing, or famine, or epidemic illness. And yet, there are many around us who live in fear because of what they look like, or how they identify themselves, or who their ancestors were, or what they believe. They do not experience peace.
I have been afraid. I have been afraid of sharing my beliefs because of the judgments of others. I have been afraid of the misconceptions that others’ may have when they hear the words Wiccan, Pagan, Priestess and Witch. I have been afraid that I might not get the job, or the loan, or even just make a new friend if they knew what I was. Who I am. Even now I don’t feel entirely comfortable calling myself a Witch, though many of my friends may be.
It’s been a long, slow process of becoming comfortable and confident enough to share who I am. And there have definitely been setbacks along the way! I have been encouraged by friends and mentors, and even strangers. By being confident, and yet vulnerable, by loving and accepting myself, by simply BE-ing who I am, I get to be a guide toward peace for others.
What is peace? Peace is acceptance, and peace is love. Blessed be.