Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Inner Peace In-A-Box

It began with just me in a room with four course tutors.  They had thought about cancelling the event.  I didn’t seem worth the attention of four people.  I wasn’t a class of primary school children, just one individual.  Four other people walked in in the room and we all sighed.  I was now one of five and there were four of them and the event was on.

Inverness Museum was hosting a creative project called “Making Peace”. The series of morning and afternoon workshops were geared around Remembrance events.  I had managed to enrol for two afternoon sessions. 

There was a bit of “permission” giving at the beginning – us giving them permission to take pictures and videos of us working and to have our work presented as part of the exhibition later on in the week. We were also required to give ourselves permission to have fun, make mistakes and work with others or not. The “or not” was the only one that really appealed. Having fun, making mistakes and working with others isn’t really how I operate!

The plan was to produce a peace box – an Inner Peace In-A-Box. The box was the size of a large matchbox, complete with a drawer that pulled out. The plan was to decorate the outside of the box with coloured paper and ribbons and fill in the drawer with “treasures” or reminders of peace.

They catered for every creative thought we could imagine with pens and pencils, glue and glitter, coloured and patterned paper, sequins and shells, feathers and ribbons, sparkly stickers and little pom poms, leaves and pine cones and more.  The choice was too much and the inner Mel panicked thinking they were expecting me to use everything!

We began with a discussion about peace.

“What is peace?  Freedom from….” Fill in the blank space. Fear, perhaps, or anxiety.  Someone said, “Having boundaries encroached.” She was the daughter of a conscientious objector, a Quaker in her own right. I suggested that maybe it wasn’t so much “freedom from…” but rather “freedom to…”

“A feeling of…” Fill in the blank space. Stillness, calm, balance, being present in the moment.  All good ideas, apparently. What came to my mind was “a resting heartbeat” – the poet in me rising to the challenge.

Is it possible to disagree with other people and be at peace? How? We talked about respecting the rights of others to express opinions.  We didn’t have to agree with people, however, we acknowledged that we have a tendency to obsess about who is right and who is wrong.

If every person could find inner peace, they would be more peaceful towards other people.

I have a feeling it’s probably not true. The path to inner peace, the how-you-get-there, has divided people of various religions and of none for centuries.

Enough of the talking.  We were there make to a peace box.

No one said it was a competition but there is just something in me says I have to make something better than the next person!

I spent all too much time looking at what the others were doing with their boxes. The lady sitting next to me was making a production line of them for various relatives.  I didn’t know you could make more than one.  Another lady had carefully made a tiny doll out of craft bits to go in her drawer.  Someone else had filled her drawer with sequins because it reminded her of dancing and she loved to dance. It seemed as if everyone was making a nicer peace box than mine – I was not at peace with that! 

The boxes, once completed, were going to be framed for the exhibition.  We were photographed with our boxes and a comment was written down explaining how the box and its contents reminded us of peace. I’m not even sure what I said.  I shall read it all when the exhibition opens at the end of the week. 

I have a feeling that I will be disappointed both with my box and with the comment.  It might not be an accurate picture of what inner peace means to me at all.  Inner peace doesn’t come from long woodland walks collecting leaves and pine cones, listening to bird song or collecting sea shells along the shore – all those things I put into the drawer.  Slowing down and taking time to listen – that resting heart beat idea – is still a good one, though. Peace for me, isn’t really about where am or what I am doing but about who I am with.  I am at peace when I am with God.

But God will not fit into a box.

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