By Priya Raj Kumar
Jerk … jerk.. bump… bump. It was stiflingly hot. We were covered in dust and perspiration. My husband, my daughter and I were jostling around in a car, on our way to a remote village in Assam, India. We were going to evaluate a project focussing on peace and development among the tribals who had suffered ethnic violence. After hours of exhausting travel, we eventually reached the village. The car stopped and we surrounded by smiling men, women and children draped in colourful garments. As part of the traditional welcome, the women washed our feet in wide brass bowls full of cool water. They carefully dried our feet and massaged them with oil. Then garlanded us with flowers. The weariness of travel melted away. We felt refreshed from within. This intimate, loving ritual reminded us of the loving way in which Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. We experienced a sense of deep peace. We were drawn to the simple men and women whom we had never met before.
The whole world is in turmoil. All of us yearn for peace – peace in our homes, peace at the work place, peace in the towns we live in, peace in our country and peace between nations. I often remember the story of a saint who was consulted by his disciples as to how to get peace. The saint replied with a gentle smile: “Your peace is within you.” Not satisfied, one disciple further queried: “Shall I then search for peace from within?” “No”, the saint responded, “Your within is outside you.”
When we are at peace with our family, friends, colleagues and God we are at peace with ourselves. Conversely when we experience disharmony and strife in ourselves, our relationships and work productivity are adversely affected. The wisdom of the saint’s message is that we cannot find our peace in isolation to our surroundings. So let us relate well with ourselves, our surroundings and those around us. With God’s grace, we can be at peace wherever we are.
This week, how do we make peace with our surroundings?
How do we make peace with those around us?