As we enter the month of November I am drawn to reflect on the freedom we are privileged to experience as a result of sacrifices made by the family members who, as veterans, served our countries in the maintenance of peace and liberty. Yet despite their sacrifices the search for peace among nations, within families, between individuals, and between individuals and their environment continues.
Spiritual masters remind us that world peace begins within each of us. A number of years ago on a visit to Westminster Abby, I felt drawn to descend into the Crypt beneath the cathedral. The words on a particular tomb, apparently written by the Anglican bishop buried there, emphasize the need for each of us to start with our self.
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.
But, it too, seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one more desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: if I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.
From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.
His epitaph reminds us that when we transform ourselves we transform everything around us. When we live in peace we radiate peace. Marcus Aurelius noted that “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.” To transform in the direction of inner peace is to acknowledge that healing ourselves and working toward world peace and Human-Earth ecology is the same work.
As we move into November, the month when we honor in a formal way those who have sacrificed so much for the freedom of our land, let us remember and celebrate them and let us also remember and celebrate the land. To celebrate the land is to remember the transformative aspects of the landscapes and the elements. It is to honor that the Earth is Mother to each of us. Her Rocks, Water, Fire and Air are for each of us, belong fully to each of us and are within each of us. Her Water is our blood. Her Air is our breath, and her Fire is our Spirit.
As we ponder ways to thank and honor all veterans and their families, especially those veterans who are or were a part of our own families, may we also ponder our part in making sure that those who have sacrificed and died for this cause know that we have taken up the torch. May each of us radiate so brightly that our inner torch ignites the spark of inner peace for multitudes, regardless of race, culture or religious beliefs.