Peace at Christmas
Years ago, before I became a Buddhist, one of my favorite things to do while I was out running errands, visiting friends, or shopping, was to stop at a local Catholic church, go inside, and sit still in the quiet.
What a wonderful gift. Silence is healing. There were times I didn't want to leave the peaceful, still air in that church. But when I did leave, I felt renewed. I went in with a mind full of questions, and left with none of those questions answered, but instead, a mind of peaceful quiet. Getting answers to the questions didn't matter once I sat in beautiful silence for a while.
Today, I travel to a local Buddhist temple for the same experience. Or I sit alone, at home, not counting the minutes, just focusing on breath.
It's two weeks until Christmas, and everything around us is in high gear. There's lots of noise - someone is always throwing a party, music is all over, advertisers are shouting at us.
I think noise is the biggest enemy of peace. I heard of a Buddhist monk in Thailand who was in a hospital in Bangkok, where the doctor told him he had terminal cancer and only months to live. The monk decided that he wanted to die in his monastery and not a hospital, so he went back to the monastery, and prepared to die.
This monk did die - 21 years later. Maybe the doctor was wrong. Or maybe the beautiful stillness of the monastery healed him in ways medicine couldn't. There's tremendous healing in silence. This Christmas, find time for silence. In the silence, you'll find peace, I guarantee it.
My husband and I are looking forward to a quiet Christmas. As the energy around us becomes more frenetic, we're choosing stillness. We love our home, and home is where we'll be. I can't think of a better way to celebrate peace on earth and good will to all beings everywhere.