St. Francis of Assisi always greeted people with a proclamation of peace. But peace seems to be a dirty word these days and not an appropriate solution to the scourge of mass shootings.
We'd rather argue about whether we should be mourning for the victims of the Las Vegas massacre or finally pass legislation meant to reduce gun violence (which is a solution only if you believe in false choices). We'd rather stoke fear of another shooting and encourage more people to own more guns so we can shoot more people (which is a solution only if you think peace is a problem). We'd rather just retreat into our tribes and hurl insults at each other (which is a solution only if you're Don Rickles).
How can we be peacemakers in these times? St. Francis explains that peace is more than a word, it is a disposition of our heart:
As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that a greater peace is in your hearts. Let no one be provoked to anger or scandal through you, but may everyone be drawn to peace, kindness, and harmony through your gentleness.
I cannot be a peacemaker by lashing out at those who make me angry. Peace is not brought about by winning an argument. Peace cannot be found by shouting. To be a peacemaker is to make a choice: to choose kindness over anger, harmony over discord, and gentleness over hardness.
That's the only path to peace.
Spend a few moments in silence. Breathe in gentleness. Exhale peace.
If angry thoughts fill your mind, let them float away. Breathe in gentleness. Exhale peace.
If feelings of fear and anxiety grasp at you, let them float away. Breathe in gentleness. Exhale peace.
If your heart becomes hardened toward others, let the hardness float away. Breathe in gentleness. Exhale peace.
Close the meditation by listening to this song. Take in the words gently. Sing them with peace.