One night a shepherd was laying in a field, saying his prayers.
"Dear God," he said. "The world is full of sadness and suffering. Won't you please send help?"
As he drifted off to sleep, the shepherd heard a voice say, "But I did send help, I sent you."
That story comes to mind as the traditional holiday season gets underway, with its universal calls for "PEACE ON EARTH." Through holiday cards, hymns, prayers and "wish lists," people everywhere are asking for an end to the wars and strife that afflict our world.
It's a beautiful idea. The only problem is that many of us expect peace to be delivered the same way Santa brings the gifts -- on a magic sleigh, from a mysterious sack of goodies. Weaned on the myth of salvation, we cling to a rescue fantasy in which our Gods, Saviors, leaders and Nobel Peace prize winners swoop down to solve our problems, end our trials and relieve our tribulations.
Now, don't get me wrong. I pray all the time for strength, courage, fortitude and guidance. I also expect our elected leaders, diplomats and ambassadors to guide the world to a more harmonious place. People in high places need to "wage peace" and set good examples for the rest of us at home watching.
But in our spectator society, where it's easier to watch reality tv than live our own authentic and vibrant life, small, personal acts are sometimes overlooked and minimized. I can't help wondering how our prospects for peace would be enriched if we listened to Socrates who said, "Let those who wish to move the world first move themselves." If we replaced the bumper sticker cliche of "Random Kindness" with "recklessly generosity," and made peace with the people who cross our paths each day, the world would be a very different place.
Since I was a child, I have looked for inspiration far and wide. Perhaps the richest source of guidance has come to me in the so-called Simple Prayer that suggests every person is an instrument of the peace. It says-
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon
This holiday season, instead of asking for the gift of peace and waiting to see if it comes under the tree, make it your own special delivery.
Let peace on earth begin with you and me.