What is Peace?
This is a universal question that came to me once more today. What is peace? What is freedom? Who is free and who is not free? Is the convicted prisoner any less free than any of us walking around? Are city dwellers more free, more at peace than people living in the country? Or are those in the country more free and more at peace? How does the idea of God or the power of God affect my peace, your peace, the feeling of peacefulness in your town, city, and how does your religion or faith affect your current state of peacefulness and freedom.
One of those days when I was in Colombia, I asked one of our escorts/translators/interpreters whether I could do something that day, can’t recall exactly. He looked at me and said, “this is a free country, you can, (Pa-trli-cia) in that Spanish sort of way, and I thought, I have heard this before- “This is a free country.” I laughed and said, “that’s what you say in America, not in Colombia; when was this also a free country?” And we all laughed at that.
“This is a free country,” we often tell ourselves. For many of my friends, America is the only free country in the world. So in Colombia I turned to my Colombian escort, and I said, “there’s no free country in the world, none,” and those around laughed once more.
What is freedom? What is peace?
This question often can be answered in a philosophical, poetic, romantic, religious way, depending on who is responding. The question came to me once more when I began to reflect on the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. How is it that we who depend so much on the power of bridges to hold us up when we drive on them or walk on them have been told now that those very bridges may no longer hold up our cars when we drive on them? How can we know peace when such a reality becomes a question to ponder when in the past, we did not need to think of such a question?
Often, many people don’t see the connection between spirituality and poetry, between a poet’s mind and the world of a poet’s words, between the power of the invisible and the person of a poem. Often, I find solace in that reality that behind all of the jargon of poetry and the power of the metaphor is a sweet calm that indeed, there is a God, and that God is real and is powerful and alive.
Whenever I forget, I only have to recall my own past to be reminded over and over that there is a God, and that if there is any sense of peace, it is the reality of that all stabilizing God. Sometimes, that reminder comes with simply stepping out on my deck in Duncansville, Pennsylvania, where my home sits on a steep cliff. From the deck, I see the clumps of small mountains rising one after the other, the Haze in the distance against the sky or at the twilight and the awesome landscape. I know certainly that none of this amazing beauty is accidental, and I know that the sense of peace that calms my very busy life is in no way accidental.
What is peace? What is freedom?
None of these two words is accidental. Freedom and peace are not in a sense of country.