Part of my Christmas Card to you is playing Michael Allen Harrison’s new Christmas song, “Winter”, behind it…it’s so beautiful.
I don’t know when I first saw the painting, “Peaceable Kingdom”, by American painter, Edward Hicks, but I know I was a little kid and I remember thinking…”Wow…look at that…everyone’s getting along”.
It depicts animals standing, laying and touching one another… animals that normally might try to kill each other or run from one another…but there they were… in harmony in a beautiful place… together. A lamb lies next to a lion and a bear touches noses with a cow. There are people in the painting too…little cherub-like people among the animals…and they look happy and peaceful...and in the distance…what looks like pilgrims with Native Americans… sharing gifts.
When I was in college I bought a small, inexpensive print of “Peaceable Kingdom”, and learned more about it in Art History. I learned that Edward Hicks was actually a distinguished Quaker Minister who used his paintings as a way to express his beliefs, and that the pilgrim part was actually a depiction of William Penn’s treaty with Native Americans. I also learned he painted over a hundred versions of it before he died.
I had “Peaceable Kingdom” hanging on my wall for several years before my artistic taste changed. I know I gave it to a friend…but never let go of how it made me feel when I looked at it...it felt like how ”Harmony” must feel.
Harmony when you’d least expect it…tolerance when your instincts tell you it shouldn’t be so…peace and love… against logic and all odds.
But these days, I don’t think it’s so easy to figure out harmony. The news is often bad news…and it’s hard to make sense of many of the things going on around us…it’s hard to feel “settled”.
So where does this thing called Harmony come from?
Confucius said: “If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character…If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home…if there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nations…When there is order in the nations, there will be peace in the world”.
So it’s kind of a “Catch 22”. Even Edward Hicks, the artist, knew that any outer peaceable kingdom depended first on our inner harmony and peace.
So my Christmas Card to you my friend is to ask you to try and figure out, and find, your harmony. In your home…your friendships…at work…in the world…but most of all inside yourself… I will too.
Make time for what’s important…take care of your health…see the glass half full…choose to see the good in yourself and others…know you’re amazing …spend time with people you love…fall in love with people you don’t know yet…serve others… we’re all in this together.
And may the gift this holiday season…into the New Year and beyond…be finding your “Peaceable Kingdom”.