Soul Food
Off the Wall, December 7, 2017

Hymns and favorite melodies seem to dwell in my brain cells. I’ll be walking home from downtown, for instance, and all of a sudden, I’ll find myself humming first a melody, and then every once in a while actually singing a few phrases of a song. Then it will be back to humming. It’s interesting how the brain works.

There was one tune that stuck out among many that has made its residency in my cells that repeatedly makes its presence known subconsciously. I don’t even have to think about going through the tasks of trying to recall it. Gently easing its way through the path of matter, the tune and some words trickle out of my mouth that is definitely pleasing to my soul.

It’s interesting. Just recently, my wife, daughter and I were standing at a checkout line when a woman stood behind me holding a half-gallon of ice cream. As most people know, I’ll talk to anybody about anything as long as it clean and doesn’t violate my code of ethics.

So, there she stood, holding this frozen creamy substance in her right hand. I couldn’t tell you what I said, but her comeback line was, “Oh, this is soul food for me.” One can imagine what went through my mind at that very moment. Ice cream definitely doesn’t enrich the soul, at least as I see it, and I can’t see it anyway, but I can easily imagine it adding to the fat cells of one’s being.

Getting back to the melody that seems to be so catchy at least in my brain, I’m told it has no title. It surfaced during World War II. Francis of Assisi is associated with it. Just making the latter statement may bring either the words or the melody to the reader’s mind. So today, I thought in giving thought to the phrases, may it be my suggestion that one try to do as the anonymous writer detailed on paper.

“Make me an instrument of your peace.” In a time when the world is full of shootings, hatred, and wars, each individual alive, if he is to work for the betterment of society can do a little something to create a barrier against the seepage of negative influences and in turn dwell on that which is positive. When one becomes an instrument to intervene and try to separate the good from the bad, hopefully others will get the hint that anything good has the potential to have peaceful consequences.

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love:” There’s a lot of that going around nowadays. Turn on the television and all one hears is deaths as a result of shootings, racism resulting from police officer abuse, and divorces due to no communication between husbands and wives.

If we are to be instruments of peace, then one must abstain from all hatred as hard as it may be and make something positive out of something negative. “How does one sow love?” one may ask. An individual full of animosity is not going to be the guiding light. Coming to terms with what is causing such ill feelings may be the first step. In my opinion, talk out one’s hostility to someone who can quietly sit and listen to all complaints. Make it a one-person act. Let the speaker who is bottled up with anger spill all the beans out on the table.

“Where there is injury, pardon.” That fits into the last paragraph.

The words continue, “Where there is doubt, faith;” That as well as the following words speak for themselves: “Where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light, where there is sadness joy.”

Life can be turned around if one decides to make all solutions peaceful.

“Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; That’s powerful. Forget the “me” bit and strive to concentrate on the sorrows of others. Putting one’s heart out there for others definitely makes one a peace instrument. “…to be understood as to understand;” In other words “not so much to be understood “ as to listen and try to understand. Keep in mind, this is how a peacemaker acts. (May not so) “…to be loved as to love;” “For in giving we receive;” What do we receive? – hope accompanied by joy.

“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Peacemakers seek forgiveness. So much can be accomplished through these acts.

Let’s be instruments of peace .


- Paul J. Volkmann
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