There was once a king who offered a prize to the artist who could paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all of the pictures. After much deliberation he was down to the last two. He had to choose between them. One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for the peaceful mountains that towered around it. Overhead, fluffy white clouds floated in a blue sky. Everyone who saw this picture said that it was the perfect picture of peace.
The second picture had mountains too. These mountains were rugged and bare. Above was an angry gray sky from which rain fell. Lightening flashed. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not appear to be a peaceful place at all. But, when the king looked closely, he saw that behind the waterfall was a tiny bush growing in the rock. Inside the bush, a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest. She was the perfect picture of peace.
The king chose the second picture. “Because,” he explained, “peace is not only in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace is in the midst of things as they are, when there is calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”
(I heard this story from Suzi Wolf, Storyteller – thankyou!)
This week we celebrated my niece’s Bat-Mitzvah; her “coming-of-age” in Jewish culture. We wanted to create a meaningful ceremony that would be steeped in tradition but not overbearingly religious. So we had 7 women give 7 blessings, each one relating to a value or practice in our tradition. We held the gathering outside in a stunning Nature Park; it was a beautiful ceremony.
I was delighted to hear that most of the women chose to bless Samantha through a story. The power of storytelling goes so far beyond regular words. We spoke of humility, generosity and love; we spoke of beauty, peace and tradition; we spoke of respect, values and family.
I told this story of peace, in the context of the Jewish practice of observing the Sabbath. On this special day some people stay home in reflection and prayer, others go for a hike or to the beach but each person in their own way marks this day of peaceful rest; this day that is different from all other days. It is the day that we can give ourselves the gift of rest, a change of scene and a more balanced and peaceful perspective of our busy, rushed day to day living. It truly is a blessing to allow yourself a day of rest, whenever it is and however you choose to celebrate it.
My niece has been welcomed into the world of women. It was a moving and joyful event. The whole world awaits her now; she can choose to be whomever she wants and to live her life however she wants. My hope and blessing for her (and for you!) is to remember to embrace the concept of the day of rest. To remember to reward ourselves for a week well lived, to embrace the idea of peace as a living, breathing entity that has an active part of the life we choose to live; a life of gratitude, generosity and celebration.
The combination of beautiful nature, the company of family and friends and the effort of a few people to create something meaningful and special was a blessing in itself. I encourage you to try it, with a little bit of thought and some preparation you too can make a ceremony or event that can create meaning and beautiful memories for a lifetime.
© Copyright 2010 Lisa Bloom