Monday, 15 November 2010

Plain dress November - Plain peace

‘Will this bring me peace?’ is a decision-making question I learned from Wayne Dyer.

When I have shared this with people, they have looked at it askance sometimes, if they understood it to refer to an ‘anything for a quiet life’ kind of peace. It seems selfish if you understand it to mean, ‘Which way will give me the easiest ride?’ That’s not what it means.

If I have a choice to make, or if I face a puzzling situation, the question, ‘Will this bring me peace?’ reveals which way has resonance for my true nature.

To take an example: if someone has been rude to me and I am planning a confrontation, amassing smart replies and stinging put-downs, I might ask myself, ‘Will this bring me peace?’ It would bring a short-term sense of satisfaction, and a smug feeling of victory, but it would also damage the relationship further and take me a step nearer to being the kind of person I never meant to be. It would not bring me peace.

On the other hand, suppose someone has been bullying and harassing me over an extended period, and finally they do something that oversteps the mark; it’s time to sort things out. I consider whether to continue to let things go by in silence, or whether to deal with the matter. ‘Will this bring me peace?’ They have overstepped the mark in a way that is disadvantageous to my family; I am neglecting my responsibility if I continue to let it go. Without being rude, without losing my temper, without being quick to raise antagonistic issues but answering thq questions as they come, I am candid about what I see as the problems, and clear in my request for a change. Though the exchange is scary and takes courage to initiate, once it is done matters that would have festered into resentment are voiced and can be laid to rest. Dealing with it has brought me peace.

Plain dress has brought me peace. It is a constant reminder to me of how I should act and speak, what I believe and who I want to be. I feel less troubled than I did at first about the lack of comprehension with which it’s met. I don’t encourage questions, and I find that even in the UK, where the term ‘Plain’ has not entered the language, people respond with an oddly instinctive knowing of the kind of person this must be. The abdication from attempted sexiness, chic-ness, elegance, youthfulness and sophistication has been like a weight rolling from my shoulders. In Plain dress I have an auric mantle all around me that says ‘Holy unto the Lord’ – only in my mind, but that’s the place where it counts. And not ‘holier-than-thou’ – that’s something quite different.

The books I read, about the Amish way of life and Quaker spirituality bring me peace; they remind me of the way I am called to tread.

The peace I am talking about is not the right to an easy life – though the way I have chosen nurtures quietness and spaciousness in everyday living and in my mind. This peace is not complacency, far from it. The Plain way brings with it continual review, searching my conscience, seeing that I have been strident or unkind, that I have neglected to pray, that I have made choices out of step with my values, that I must say ‘sorry’, retrace my footsteps, start again.

This peace is the sweeping clean of the inner chamber of my soul, and setting a lantern there. It is tending the flame and singing the simple melody of Life.

‘Will this bring me peace?’ is worth asking – before an expensive purchase, before a house move, before accepting a marriage proposal, before sending off a job application, before going to that hen party or watching that television programme or buying that magazine. Peace that is not the absence of struggle but the presence of love; peace that belongs to aligning my life the best I know how to do with what I have seen in Jesus.


Alice Y. said...

Yes! This has a lot of resonance for me. At the moment I am really pushing and pushing to get a community farm started in our city on derelict land so I can grow pretty much all of our own food next year. It's a huge challenge but things are falling into place - because I am following that sense of what makes me right with God.
The Food Project is part of the answer I am finding to "what love requires of me" - closer to a fair share of the earth's resources, not stealing from the poor of the earth or from the future (by contributing to climate change through fossil fuel use in the food chain).
God's peace! Surprising and possible.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Alice :0)
What an exciting venture! That's Canley as in Coventry, yes? Good to meet you! God bless and prosper your project.

River said...

I wish you lived on this side of the world.. or the other way around.. just like to sit,talk and have a cup of coffee/tea with you..

this is amazing..thank you ..

from a newbie Quaker :)

Denise in TN

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Denise :0) Lovely to hear from you!

joanie said...

I was going to ask this privately, but I am in too big of a hurry to even look for your email, if it is there. Maybe this is not entirely correct - on topic, I mean. But I suffer from impulsiveness at times ( you might be figuring that out, since I have had to apologize for jumping in when I have not read correctly. I am always hurrying.). I think you said something a while back about wishing you could dress like, oh, I can't remember, but the gist was unplain. I have trouble having peace because I have this problem with my idea of beauty and me. I get over it and then it comes back, this "oh, I am so dowdy and so ugly". After all these years. How do you combat this, if I got it somewhat right this time?

Unknown said...

Oh this is how I try to look at things. I too wish to have you close to visit with. Many Blessing's

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Joanie! What an interesting question! I'll think about it a bit and write a blog post about it today :0)

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Yvonna! Lovely to hear from you!