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Spontaneous Overflow Reflecting in Tranquility

The Official Blog of Michael Schoenhofer, Executive Director

Let Your Light Shine, Your Peace Flow

What’s Most Important to You?

Walking around our neighborhood each evening, I’ve noticed how differently people decorate for Christmas. Some have elaborate displays, others a simple string of lights, and some just a small tree in the window. Despite how different the outside of their houses appear, within each home everyone is looking for the same thing; “peace on earth, goodwill toward all”.


I’ve read two stories lately where differences no longer mattered. Two stories that speak so dramatically to me about how people found what was most important to them in their darkest hours.

The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce – December 24 - 25, 1914

World War I was horrific. In the four years between 1914 and 1918, over 25 million people were killed or wounded. Yet a beautiful moment came amid this horror on Christmas Eve in the trenches of Flanders in France.


"The first signs that something strange was happening occurred on Christmas Eve. At 8:30 p.m., an officer of the Royal Irish Rifles reported to headquarters: 'Germans have illuminated their trenches, are singing songs and wishing us a Happy Xmas. Compliments are being exchanged, but I am nevertheless taking all military precautions.' Further along the line, the two sides serenaded each other with carols—the German "Silent Night” being met with a British chorus of “The First Noel”—and scouts met, cautiously, in no-man's-land, the shell-blasted waste between the trenches. The war diary of the Scots Guards records that a certain Private Murker ‘met a German Patrol and was given a glass of whisky and some cigars, and a message was sent back saying that if we didn’t fire at them, they would not fire at us.’


And this same event sprang up at many other places along the front lines in Flanders when English soldiers heard their German enemies call out: ‘English soldier, English soldier, a merry Christmas, a merry Christmas!’” (Mike Dash - SMITHSONIANMAG.COM - )


Their Christmas Truce was unofficial. Officers on both sides took strong measures to make sure that it could never happen again. But something magical happened that even lead the stodgy Wall Street Journal to observe: “What appears from the winter fog and misery is a Christmas story, a fine Christmas story that is, in truth, the most faded and tattered of adjectives: inspiring.”


Some reports surfaced that soldiers on both sides were transferred to different battle theaters because many just couldn't fire upon the men with whom they’d only just laid down their arms and shared Christmas cheer.


The Loyal Women of Weinsberg - December 21, 1140

(Thanks to Elaine Krietemeyer for this story)

In southern Germany, there is an ancient town with only a few thousand inhabitants called Weinsberg. In 1140, the King of Germany, Konrad III (House of Hohenstaufen), attacked the town, which was in the hands of a rival dynasty (House of Welf). Following months of failed fighting by the House of Welf to rescue the city from the King’s siege, the citizens of the city knew they had to surrender. The residents of Weinsberg laid out two conditions under which they would surrender: first, the King must promise to set the women free, and second, the women could take whatever they wanted as long as they could carry it on their backs. The King agreed.


On December 21, 1140, the fortress drawbridge was put down. And the women of Weinsberg walked out, carrying their husbands on their backs. Although Konrad’s men wanted to step in, the monarch stopped them, stating, “A King should always stand by his word.”


Let Your Light Shine. Let Your Peace Flow Over Every Obstacle.

These are two events of hope during dark and dreadful times. The women of Weinsberg chose their husbands over their possessions. The soldiers in Flanders came out into the open, defenseless for a few hours of camaraderie.

Christmas comes during the darkest time, and this year during a very difficult season. The essence of the Christmas story for me is that Jesus who came defenseless walked among us and taught us to think differently. He who enjoyed the company of sinners, sages, and shepherds, ate with prostitutes and tax collectors, and promised to see a thief in heaven, never saw our differences. He looked into our hearts.

Let Your Light Shine. Let Your Peace Flow over Every Obstacle.

It is in our power to look beyond the differences we see and allow our peace to flow like warm honey over every difficulty. We can lighten someone's fears and anxieties and heal another’s loneliness or sadness by simply looking, not for differences, but for what we share in common. We need only look into the heart.

My brother-in-law, John, said it beautifully when he told someone, “Mike and I have a lot of different views, but we still love one another.”


My wish for you, dear friends, is that you let your peace flow over those you love. I hope you experience serenity, the love and companionship of friends and family, and the joy of well-being.

Let Your Light Shine. Let Your Peace Flow Over Every Obstacle.

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