Children as Peacemakers

Everyday Stories of Peace
Green Scarf Stories, entry ten, September 26, 2014

As I was walking into the schoolyard the other day, I noticed a group of children in the middle of a discussion. The soccer ball was held steady under the foot of one player as he and his classmates tried their best to resolve whatever it was that had stopped the game.

“We’re working it out,” they told me as I came closer. Indeed, they were working it out. Whatever the issue had been, perhaps a difference in the interpretation of the rules, or maybe it had been a question of taking turns, they ironed out the differences as a group and got back to what they really wanted to be doing, which was playing soccer and having fun.


The ability of children to be peace-makers always astounds me. They have this innate wisdom of what is fair, especially when they are able to put themselves into another’s shoes. Empathy is a wonderful thing.

We’ve been talking a lot about peace in class these past two weeks as a way to mark the International Day of Peace, held every year on September 21st. This always brings up interesting discussions, but it is even more heart-warming when you see children’s peace-making skills in action. If only the world’s big conflicts could be brought to the level playing-field of the playground!

I’ve also been thinking a lot this week about the power of children, through their sense of clear-sighted honesty, to bring peace to those around them. One of my favorite examples of this is a story told by Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who wrote The Color Purple. She describes an incident in her own life as a young mother where her daughter, in a loving and honest way, put to rest a whole armful of worries which Alice had carried around with her for years. She writes about this incident in her book, In Search of our Mother’s Gardens.


When Alice was eight years old her brother accidently shot a copper pellet from his BB gun. What remained in her blinded right eye was a glob of white scar tissue, which was later fixed to resemble a blue crater. For years, Alice worried about what people would think about her eye, and those thoughts intensified after the birth of her daughter. Alice dreaded the day when her daughter would discover that her mother’s eyes were different from other people’s eyes.

This discovery happened when her daughter was age three. She had been watching a television show called “Big Blue Marble” which began with a picture of the earth taken from the moon. Afterwards, when Alice was putting her daughter down for a nap, her baby daughter steadied her mother’s face in her small hands and looked intently into her eyes. “Mommy,” she said, ”There’s a world in your eye.” From that moment, all the worries Alice had carried around about her eye disappeared, and she came into the peace of being herself, whole and free.

Thinking back to my own childhood, I remember looking into the crisp clear blue eyes of my own mother and thinking that they were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. Even today, her eyes are still beautiful.



The Peaceful Days of Summer

Everyday Stories of Peace
Green Scarf Stories, entry nine, September 13, 2014

IMG_2538Those of us living in Sweden are about to say goodbye to warm weather as we head into the winter months with fewer hours of sunlight. Our friends in Uganda, and others who live near the Equator, where sunlight follows a seven-in-the-morning to seven-in-the-evening pattern every day, all year round, don’t have this shift into a period of diminishing sunlight. I’ve been watching how the change in the patterns of light affects our moods and rhythms of life.

IMG_2516Closing this year’s chapter on the warmer months gives me pause to reflect on the adventures and unexpected discoveries my family enjoyed this past summer. We had the opportunity to visit New York City with my brother for one fully-packed beautiful day. In the middle of this concentrated mass of over eight million people, we found the High Line, an elevated freight rail line which has been transformed into a public park full of art exhibits, dragonflies, daisies, purple cone flowers and a hard-working crew of honey bees. We spent a wonderful morning exploring this oasis thanks to the creative imagination of those who wanted to keep a bit of nature in the middle of the New York City urban jungle.


There was also the much cherished peaceful time spent on the coast of Massachusetts catching up with family and friends, listening to the sound of the cicadas, swapping stories, watching the moon, laughing at nothing and everything.

One of the highlights of every summer is visiting my parent’s home. There’s always something new, as well as the comfort of things that do not change. By now my own children know just about every hiding place in the house. Childhood drawings and other creations still hang in various nooks and crannies. Creativity is still valued and nurtured, with love.

Even my grandmother’s artwork remains tucked into the shadows of the garden, reminding us of her. My mother’s mother hailed from Pender Island off the coast of western Canada and because of her formative years as an island person, she could make anything and everything. After all these years, her legacy of creativity is still treasured in my mother’s home. Underneath the crocosmia flowers sits one of her clay frogs, next to a toad planter.


Amidst the seasonal shifts, there is always comfort in the pansies which my father painted at a young age. Since she first saw it, my mother has loved this painting. She framed his childhood masterpiece and hung it in the living room, over the piano. I love that my mother has always loved this about my father; that she has always seen and valued his inner creative loving self. Here it is.


Happy Birthday, Dad!