Thursday, February 01, 2007

Themes of Peace

Here's an interesting poem from Writer's Almanac this morning: "At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border" by William Stafford, from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. © Graywolf Press.

At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed-or were killed-on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

This makes me wonder about whether we are able to give a name to the peaceful places in our lives; the times that were not characterized by conflict or struggle or even joy. In narrative work we can easily see the face and feel the presence of themes that act as a suppressing force in our lives--oppression, expectation, rejection, limitation--or even as a propelling force--ambition, expectation, freedom, acceptance, expansion. But what about the non-force, that-which-is? What do we call it when we notice it? Is it a clearing or a valley? Or the quiet ground of peace from which all else comes?


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