As we close the year and move through the holidays, we are reminded of the peace and joy the holiday season represents. And, all too often, peace and joy are hidden by outer obligations of family, food, gift-getting and giving, and….world news.
Avita Yoga targets and resolves limits and restrictions of the body. Similarly, it’s the yoga of a lifetime to soften and look beyond the distractions that block our experience of inner joy and peace. In a sense, it’s our yoga to “lay down our arms” and salvage the peaceful mind. I’ve found that making it a priority brings peaceful results and purpose to life on planet Earth. If not me, then who? It’s how we heal the world we see.
Every once in a while, this truth makes its way to the surface. Many years ago, a friend sent me the opening lines to the constitution of the United Nations Educational and Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It reads…
“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”
It’s beautiful and honest. Peace is already in our minds, waiting and wanting to be known. There’s nothing more patient than perfect peace.
I recently received a video reconstruction of a miraculous WWI event in an email from the Miracle Distribution Center. It reminded me of the opening line of the UNESCO constitution. I couldn’t wait to combine these two pieces and share them. It’s cause for true hope! And it’s rare to see such outer evidence of inner peace.
Here’s the backdrop, thanks to Beverly Hutchinson
Lay Down Your Arms — Christmas, 1914
The Great War was only a few months old, but the two sides were already deadlocked in the grisly new pattern of trench warfare. Both the British and Germans had learned to shovel miles-long ditches in the rocky French farmland, ditches from which men blasted at one another with machine guns and mortars. In these muddy, rat-infested trenches, British soldiers opened soggy Christmas greetings from their King while German troops read a message from the Kaiser a few hundred yards away.
Between the rows of trenches, where shivering men thought about families at home, lay a barren no-man’s-land, a zone of craters and shattered trees where anything that moved was instantly fired at. So narrow was this strip that whenever there was a lull in the roar of the guns, each side could hear the clink of cooking gear from the other.
Late on Christmas Eve, with the sleet tapering off and the temperature dropping, a British Tommy on guard with the Fifth Scottish Rifles heard a different sound drifting across no-man’s-land. In the German trenches a man was singing.
“Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht…”
It was a tune the British soldier recognized as “Silent Night, Holy Night.” The sentry began to hum along with the melody. Then, louder, he chimed in with the English words, singing an odd duet with his enemy beyond the barbed wire.
“…heilige Nacht…holy night…”
A second British soldier crawled to the sentry station and joined in. Little by little, others on both sides picked up the song, blending their rough voices across the shell-pocked landscape. The Germans broke out with a second carol, “O Tannenbaum,” and the British replied with, “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen.” On and on, the antiphonal singing went. A British soldier with binoculars reported that the Germans had hoisted a ragged evergreen with lighted candles in the branches to the top of the sandbag barrier. As the dawn of Christmas day broke, signs appeared on both sides in two languages: “Merry Christmas.”
Pulled by a force stronger than fear, one by one, the soldiers started laying down their arms, creeping beneath barbed wire and around mortar holes into no-man’s-land. At first, it was just a few men, then more and more, until scores of British and German troops met together in the first light of Christmas day. The boys brought out photographs of mothers and wives and exchanged gifts of candy and cigarettes. Someone produced a soccer ball, and the men played on a few yards of crater-free ground.
Then the soldier’s truce was over.
By mid-morning Christmas day, horrified officers had summoned their men back to the trenches; firing had recommenced. Within hours, the Fifth Scottish Rifles issued an order forbidding such contact: “We are here to fight, not to fraternize.”
And the soldiers obeyed. The war, as history tragically records, destroyed almost an entire generation of young men on both sides. But there was an unforgettable memory in the minds of those who lived to recall that first Christmas at the front–The memory of a few hours when their master had been neither King nor Kaiser, but the Prince of Peace.
No matter the conflict that may be raging in your life, take a moment to withdraw your analysis and loyalty from the world and allow Peace to be born into your awareness. Even if it is only for a moment, ask Peace to be your eyes. Be gentle and very patient, and watch the effects of peace spring up around you.
With peace and joy,