Recently I was sent a video about some children and what they wanted for Christmas. They were asked to write one letter to the Three Kings (the Spanish version of Santa) saying what they wanted for Christmas. The letters referred to the usual toys, video games, etc. Then the children were asked to write another letter, this one to their parents, saying what they wanted from their parents for Christmas. These letters asked for nonmaterial things like spending time together reading or playing soccer. Then the children were asked if they could only send one of the letters, which one would they send? Yes, all the children chose the letter to the parents.
Here’s the link to see more about the experiment:
Raising children takes lots of time, effort, and attention. This can be difficult to deliver when parents are working, working, working to provide for their children and when the demands of every day life are so draining in our complex consumerist society. Kids need parents to talk with them, play with them, learn about things together, have experiences together, share feelings, read together and talk about the stories. That all takes energy and time. And most parents probably feel they have more of a deficit of time and energy than of money.
Peace is like this. Peace takes time. Peace involves relationships, getting to know people, learning to trust others, listening and understanding. Whether the situation is between two people, two groups, or two countries, peace is often a time and energy consuming process. It requires commitment and creativity. We can see how it can appear to be easier to just sever a relationship rather than work for reconciliation and peace. We can see how it can be easier to lash out and make demands rather than go through a painstaking, difficult, tiresome, drawn out process of negotiation and compromise.
But children who have their material needs met but not their emotional and spiritual needs are less happy and have more problems. Kids that don’t get needed attention and energy and time from their parents have a harder time. Peace is like that. We may seek the quick fix, but it may not be lasting. It may not be as good for all those involved. It may not have the long term positive effects that peace can have, when the time and energy is put into seeking peace. Peace may be a more difficult path but it is also more rewarding and better for all those involved.
Can you think of a time that you invested yourself in working for peace? Think of the effort that was put into the process and the result.
Prayer: So often we want immediate results. We want to see a positive outcome right away. May we remember that peace is very precious and can take a long time to create and to maintain. May we think about our faith and the stories we have of God’s efforts to be at peace with humanity. May we summon that same kind of commitment and patience in our efforts for peace with ourselves, with one another, with creation, and with God. Amen.