Daffodil bulbs of peace

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

On the outside they're nothing much to look at. In fact, my 2-year-old son calls them "onions" with a little tone of disdain in his voice. He doesn't know that hidden within each crusty exterior is a beautiful idea - an idea that is building up its strength to wage a powerful spray of the most beautiful and perfectly shaped blooms, bright yellow and smiling.

Trying to explain this phenomenon is difficult. The transition from bulb to flower is just too magnificent to outline. Unless of course you've seen it before. He hadn't. So he had to take my word for it and follow my example by carefully making little holes and gently covering over each bulb with rich dark soil and bark dressing.

It's a month later, and we see evidence that those yellow flowers are on their way. I show him the one or two tiny green spears pointing upward and pushing aside the pieces of bark that cover the soil.

But do I have that same faithful and expectant hope for peace to blossom in the Middle East? Are there bulbs hidden in that darkness of chemical weapons, that confusion of power and oil field of despair? It is difficult to believe that peaceful resolution is possible unless you've seen it before. Gratefully, I have.

Looking for hope was difficult

My home country of South Africa was immersed in a dark cloud of deceit, treachery, and abuse. Looking from the outside, it seemed that only war could come of it. Yet the green spears grew upward out of that dark mess and into the light.

In 1993, at the height of the unrest, I was at university, living with a group of militant political activists. As the scenes of violence grew worse, arguments started to flare up around me. Some of the resident students wanted to retaliate, to fight back at the illegitimate police force and kill for peace. One such extremist bombed the conservative party offices but was caught by the police and thrown in jail. Family members of other residents were killed in township fighting. Feeling hopeful about the future seemed impossible. Looking for hope was difficult.

One Sunday morning at church, I heard the most beautiful solo. The music and words painted a picture of such concord with the line from Isaiah 52, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" Looking back now, I see how similar it is to the story I have been telling my son, about those daffodil bulbs. I needed to trust - to simply obey and carry out these instructions from God. I did, and it worked.

How my views changed

Some members of our university residence had been involved in a rally where the slogan "ONE SETTLER ONE BULLET" was chanted, meaning basically, "One white man, one bullet." I prayed to know that within each of us was a heart of good - as we were all God's children. I tried to show more love to my neighbors and held to the idea that God is Love and, if I'm true to myself, I can't help reflecting that Love. They began to reflect more love to me. My prayer helped change my views of my neighbors and my views of the rulers of our country.

The issues of color and racism started to fade. One night, I was one of the only whites in a group in my neighbor's room, and we were discussing the possible courses of action to achieve democratic government. We all burst out laughing when someone remarked in response to my suggestions "But you're not really white." I was white, but the exterior appearance had become less important, and my thinking did not fit with the stereotype of white supremacy.

Without really noticing, we had started to look for something deeper. It was not about conflict between black and white; it was about finding fairness and creating a legitimate environment for growth. War didn't meet that end.

South Africa's resolution was, on the whole, remarkably peaceful. There were people who just refused to accept war as inevitable; they could see the potential of the bulbs and told others of the green spears pointing upward. Nelson Mandela said in one of his speeches: "We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Mary Baker Eddy wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear" (pg. 506). Good can grow out of what looks like chaos. When the media reports confound us and show our leaders engaged in the dark talk of war, we can look beneath that surface to see the green spears of good. We can tell others, too, about what we see.

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