Realizing that this year’s Peace Week Delaware is happening Oct. 2-10 gives me reason to reflect on the fast passage of time. Only a month or two has passed since making arrangements with a few organizations to host an event during the annual week celebrating peace and justice. As I checked my calendar for other assignments and tasks left to attend to, I questioned the reasons I had for engaging community and faith-based organizations to host a Peace Week event, when I knew full well that I would have to be the driving force behind making it happen! Why not just participate in Peace Week as an interested individual, I asked myself, and save my energy?
My spirit answered in the silence of the room, “Because!”
I feel a compelling necessity to participate in Peace Week Delaware during this time of crisis and uncertainty caused by a pandemic, racial injustice and climate disasters across the nation. Adding to the distress of our communities is living with the constant threat of gun violence in our midst. Question upon question hovers over our peace of mind, taunting: How do we create safe and healthy places for everyone? How do we plan for a future with enough water, enough food, enough shelter for all? How do we open our arms to the stranger, the immigrant, the refugee? How do we protect the undocumented, the children born and raised in this country they call home? How do we cope with myriad moral questions that seek answers and seemingly have no answers?
My inner spirit spoke softly, once again: “We create peace in ourselves, so we can build peace in our communities.” Then, we can turn to each other and our communities for the support and resources that nurture us. We can seek spirituality, faith, family, circles of friendship.
Peace Week Delaware offers many ways to start down this path of caring for ourselves and building inner peace. Music, meditation, faith and prayer services, spiritual practices and visions of peace through art all guide us to an oasis of refreshment to replenish ourselves, making it possible to care for others. The week’s events and activities provide an opportunity for diverse people to “share space” and find common ground in a desire for peace. We can find connections in a service of mourning for those who have died from gun violence or from COVID-19, a discussion of the ways climate impacts all of us, sharing and listening to each other’s stories, learning strategies for detecting and preventing suicide, conversations with the police, discussions about our right to free speech or visions of peace created by children.
You can attend these free and nonpartisan events and more during Peace Week Delaware. These community-generated gatherings allow people who desire to live in peace and harmony to seek understanding, learn from others, support efforts to find common solutions, exchange ideas and create building blocks for a better tomorrow together.
Peace Week is a time we listen to that small, quiet inner voice and turn the silent prayers and concerns we are most passionate about into action. The spirit of our creator leads us to do what is right and good. We may not be able to take on the big issues, but we can certainly bring our passion and efforts to the small, ever-so-needed, pressing opportunities to help our neighbors and our community by visiting the homebound, the sick or the elderly; mentoring a child; helping at a food pantry, etc. Prayer changes things, as I am a witness, but change will come faster if we put our collective hands to the task.
I believe in the power of “good.” And I believe, as did the late statesman John Lewis, in getting into “good trouble” by speaking truth to power, by standing for what is right and just, by aspiring to live a life of generosity and caring, which is possible in all of us through faith and action! Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu advises: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
Many little bits of good are gathered to create Peace Week Delaware, now in its sixth year. Peace Week is a standard-bearer for hope, a demonstration of social cohesiveness in that desire for peace in our state and our world. It is the bridge over troubled waters that provides some relief from the stress of a nation divided; it is a sigh of relief and a chance to refresh our commitment to keep reaching for the goal, to stay the course to the finish! This is the benefit of Peace Week Delaware for me: promoting “goodwill toward all human beings and giving honor to the God I cannot see!”
La Vaida Owens-White is a faith community registered nurse who serves as a consultant, mentor and community activist. Ms. Owens-White retired from ChristianaCare’s Community Health Outreach and Education Program and volunteers for the hospital’s Department of Pastoral Services. More information on Peace Week Delaware can be found here.