A Universal Strategy for Peace-building at a time of much wounding and sorrow
Reflection by Bishop Philip Huggins

A poetic meditating friend, Noel Keating, shared this phrase of Heidegger:

“Poetry is language in service of the unsayable.”

Noel says that, likewise, “meditation is a practice in service of the unsayable – a pathway to that which can be apprehended by the heart although never fully comprehended by the head.” [Meditation and Metaphor 2.]
In a world full of much wounding and the many wounded we are trying to help people refind and live with a love of this planetary life, a love of one another and of the adventure beckoning from beyond in the land called ‘heaven.’
Our strategy, if we might call it such, is the contemplative silence of meditation and words with deeds that are always and only the poetry of our hearts.
It doesn’t seem much of a strategy amidst bombs that are destroying whole families and communities; drone attacks out of nowhere and people savaging each other on social media!
And yet this is a strategy of universal wisdom that has saved lives from long before the human imagination came up with something as bleak as nuclear submarines…

And we know it works. So we persist.

So let me restate one aspect of what helps us keep going:
The remembering of what we intuited in childhood.

There is a saying of St. John Chrysostom (347-407):
“If you have found the way to your heart you have found the way to heaven.”

Midway through Lent and on the way to Easter, in Anglican liturgies we have a Collect prayer embedding a related phrase of St. Augustine:

“…you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you…”

Our contemplative friend in Ireland, Noel Keating, writes:
“All of us who meditate-in whatever tradition – are drawn to it because we experience an inner yearning for something deeper in our lives. We have developed an intuition that there is more to life than the desires of the ego. We often experience that yearning first as children. I recall at the age of ten or eleven reading a library book in which a character refers to a phrase from  St. Augustine, the saying that ‘You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.’ I remember how deeply that phrase resonated with my own heart when I first read it. And I think it is fair to say that that childhood yearning has ultimately guided my whole life.”
Outgrowing the masks that hide the true self.

What Noel says, I think, is profound.
Do you who are reading this reflection have a similar memory from childhood which, if you are looking back from now, seems to have guided the unfolding of your adult life? (Even if it was forgotten or lost for a while, even a good while of some decades!)

My remembering is more sensual: The vast horizon at dusk on the family farm at Fernihurst in northern Victoria. The sound of galahs finding night shelter in the gum trees. Otherwise silence. The sheer beauty of this silence in the Australian bush critiqued the folly of humans making each other sad by their unloving words and deeds. (A reality I was already very aware of, alas, by age eleven).

Being around eleven years old…Still a child but with glimpses of what lies ahead…It is a crucial age.

Our son Nick composed music for a film about children aged around eleven. The film maker was having an unhappy time as an adult but remembered how much happier she had been when aged eleven. Wonderfully, she took her camera around the world interviewing eleven-year-olds!
The result is both charming and illuminating. Watch the trailer here.

Herein is the enduring wisdom of our ‘strategy’!
Our faith traditions encourage us to recover a childlike wonder and openness by seeking a purity of heart.

Jesus’ promise is beautiful. “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” [Matthew 5.8]

Hence St. John Chrysostom’s encouragement at the beginning of this reflection.

Another friend, Professor Eva Pena in Spain – Campus PHI with its Vedantic ashram led by Swamiji shared with me words of the Estonian composer Arvo Part. They are about his ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’  – ‘Mirror in the Mirror’


“I could compare my music to white light which contains all colours. Only a prism can divide all the colours and make them appear; this prism could be the spirit of the listener…The most sensitive musical instrument is the human soul. The next is the human voice. One must purify the soul until it begins to sound…To be like a beggar when it comes to writing music, whatever, however, and whenever God gives…The criterion must be everywhere and only humility…”

Wise words … A purer heart will be a humbler, always more generous heart.

Midway in Lent is often called ‘Mothering Sunday’. There are lovely traditions to sustain us.
One of these is Simnel Cake

Another is to surround ‘Mother Church’ holding hands and give our Church a big hug!

Relatedly, we may think prayerfully of our mothers. In the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), a current exhibition has a room filled with letters people have written to their mothers, responding to the invitation of Yoko Ono. It is full of sweet but also poignant messages from many hearts.

My Mommy is Beautiful is a participatory project where visitors are invited to write their own reflections about their mothers. They are also welcome to attach photographs to the canvases that will eventually spill over onto the walls. Though deeply personal, My Mommy is Beautiful operates as a conceptual artwork that is active and grows through the exhibition. My Mommy is Beautiful is emblematic of Yoko Ono’s conceptual and performance artworks that invite audience participation and collective action. Ono is urging us to celebrate the maternal love we experienced or perhaps imagined and wished for. Through handwritten and drawn offerings she seeks to celebrate a community of voices, perspectives and approaches. The artwork also offers a moment of reflection, contemplation and remembering.

So, our strategy for recovery, amidst so much wounding, is meditation and words with deeds that are poetic, in service of the sublime.

Our strategy includes, therefore, a recovery of the childlike wonder we may recall from when we were about eleven.For me and many this includes the nurturing of ‘Mother Nature’ in the Australian bush and of intuitions of a divine mothering, as glimpsed in the poetry of St. Anselm:

‘Jesus as a mother you gather your people to you: you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.’

Making gentle our bruised world. That is our task.

By our daily lives of meditation and poetic living we may thus help each other, including today’s eleven year olds, stay attuned to our and their heart yearning for beauty, truth and kindness.

In that direction there lies a sustainable peace. The need for this is obvious and urgent.

To that end ,we are continuing to offer events such as those with which this reflection ends, including a new invitation.



Finally, this UK invitation below is an example of what we plan to do more of, here in Australia.

Inner Peace, Outer Peace –
a retreat for religious and spiritual leaders
Thursday 18th – Sunday 21st July
Global Retreat Centre

There is a wisdom that we all recognise – the more demanding the times, the more important it is to deepen our meditation and prayer.  In this context we write to ask if you can join us in July for a Retreat, given the peace-building work that obviously lies ahead.

Amidst current conflicts and sufferings, it is our spiritual practice that enables us to continue our work for peace, with hope in our hearts. Isn’t this how we renew the core human and spiritual values at the heart of our traditions?  Applying these, we know, are the foundations for peace and justice.

This Retreat for silent contemplation and for meaningful conversations may also, we can imagine, lead to new partnerships in peace-building. Taking time to spiritually nurture ourselves can enable a deeper healing and transformation in our own lives and in the world. This “Inner Peace, Outer Peace Retreat” will bring together people from around the world and from many faith traditions.

Our Retreat will be held at the Global Retreat Centre in Oxfordshire, UK, a former stately home in 52 acres of beautiful rolling countryside overlooking the River Thames. https://www.globalretreatcentre.org/  The Retreat, board and meals are the generous gift of the Retreat Centre, whose leaders discern well the needs of our time.  Arrivals would be during Thursday 18th July and departures after lunch on Sunday 21st July.

We would be honoured if you could join us and give us the benefit of your presence and your wisdom.

In anticipation, we would welcome your reflections on how silence and deep spiritual reflection helps you in your life as a peace-builder.

Please let us know by the 20th March, if you can be with us and if you need further information.
Please contact Liz Corrigan: innerpeace@uk.brahmakumaris.org