Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Peace Lily

June 27, 2013

  Michael Gemmel

The projection or aspiration of peace into another time or place is remiss without its practice in our daily lives. Peace starts in the home. It embarks from our everyday surroundings with those immediately around us.

In Saint Augustine’s seminal work the City of God, he spoke of Tranquillitas Ordinis, the peace of all things. Peace, he thought, is a state of being that is achieved when it is in accordance with God’s larger created order. Yet if we are to harmonize within the larger order, nature and all its creatures, with our own particular interactions, it requires us to seek peace with those and that which is around us, in our everyday environment.

We are forgetful creatures and sometimes we need to be reminded not only of the larger order of things, but the smaller details, the simplicities that gives meaning to the bigger picture.

This morning I was reminded.

The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach in Washington, D.C., hosts an assortment of plants and today (June 25th) we witnessed one particular plant responding to nature’s unrelenting rhythm. Once and every year during summer our Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) shoots a single solitary white flower, a symbol of peace after which the Lily is named. Peace Lilies are hearty plants that are often grown in the home and thus the symbol of peace too grows from within the home.

This morning we noticed a white bulb rising above its wide green ferns. Attached to one of the stems, no one knows for exactly how long it has been growing. In the light, the closed soft petals reflect the potential and hope that will come to bloom; this tenuous stage embodying an ongoing struggle, the unfinished task – a world that still has not fully bloomed.

Our reminder this morning was not simply a symbol of “peace”. It was a pragmatic reminder that peace is tentative and that it relies on us and its practice, fitting within the larger order peace starts in the home, wherever that may be.