Blessed are the peacemakers:

religion and oneness

Various candles (Blessed are the peacemakers)

The origins of words may not always strike us as especially interesting or important. But sometimes they are both, and ‘religion’ is a good example.

It is especially important to remember some of the deepest meanings of this word at moments when some may wish to use it as a way of dividing people.

While the origins of the word ‘religion’ are not entirely clear, it appears to come from combining the Latin re, meaning ‘again’ or ‘back’, and ligio, meaning ‘to connect’ or ‘tie’ or ‘bind together.’ Far from being something to be used to divide people, ‘religion’ means ‘a way of getting back in touch’, something that ‘reconnects’ and ‘binds together.’

With this deeper meaning in mind, we might also say that to be unaware of or reject the contemplative dimension of religion, is to be unaware of or reject the purpose of religion.

Contemplation - the gift of seeing clearly, which the practice of meditation helps open us to receive - is all about getting back in touch, reconnecting with that which binds us together.


Contemplation, writes Rowan Williams:


‘is the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom – freedom from self-orientated, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.’ (1)

The contemplative dimension is the heart of every religion, helping us come to awareness of our essential oneness with each other and all creation in the oneness of God.

The great wisdom teachings of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the wisdom teachings of the Koran, of the Vedas and Upanishads, of the Buddhist Sutras and the great ancestral religions of Australia and America (to name but a few), all bear witness to the truth of oneness, and our need to manifest (incarnate) this truth in our relationships, through our care of each other, through our care of the whole of creation (the two are not separate).

Religion: a way of getting back in touch, of reconnecting, of binding together. As Sister Wendy Beckett writes, ‘Think of religion as a trellis, a framework, on which the vine of love can grow.’ (2)

Meditation: a simple practice which opens to receive the gift of contemplation, the gift of seeing clearly and living the truth of oneness. “May they all be one,” Jesus prayed, “may they be brought to completion as one” (Jn 17:10-23).

Speaking as a Christian, I like to imagine the extraordinary difference that Christians might make in bringing about greater peace in the world if they were to embrace the contemplative dimension of the Gospel.

We have all been given all that we need for a new way of seeing and a new way of being, for a new understanding of ourselves and of each other as not separate but one. We have all been given all we need to come home to the mystery of God’s presence within all creation, and to manifest this presence in the practice of unselfish love.

The heart-breaking conflicts in Israel-Palestine, Ukraine and elsewhere, make us painfully aware of the need for peace in the world, of the need to do what we can (however modest) to help create a better future for all.

I’d like to offer a few words on Jesus’ famous teaching about what it looks like to manifest divine love as peace.

The Sermon on the Mount is understood by many to be a record of Jesus’ essential teaching and it begins with what are known as the beatitudes (Matt 5:3-11). 

The beatitudes are not commandments, not a list of things we need to do (or not do). They tell us what we will see if we look at certain people in certain situations. They are descriptions of a way of being called ‘blessedness’, a way of being we might also call ‘holiness’ in the sense that this is what it looks like to be whole, to be one.

Many of us might look at the beatitudes and feel slightly nervous. We might say to ourselves, ‘I’ll never be able to live like this! They must surely be meant for others.’ But the seeds of the beatitudes are in all of us. They are part-and-parcel of who we are. We just need to become aware of these seeds, and decide to water and tend to them. God takes care of the rest.

Ultimately, the beatitudes are one. Like the different colours refracted by a prism are never other than the single source of light, the beatitudes are expressions of a single love. This is what it looks like to be fully, radically human, to be one, to manifest in our bodies the divine truth of who we are, shining in and through our relationships.

Our lives can become the radiance of divine love, because God, love, is the deepest truth of who we are. Our practice of meditation is a simple way of saying ‘Yes’ to God bringing this about.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the radiance of divine love.’


Blessed are those whose presence is an open hand held out from an open heart, a quiet bridge to our common home.


Blessed are those who bring the gift of silence to the noise of anger and conflict.


Blessed are those who have surrendered the need for control, who allow the Spirit of peace to breathe through them without resistance, and so become the breath of peace for others.


Blessed are those who can listen patiently in the absence of easy answers, who can wait patiently in the darkness of not-knowing.


Blessed are those who gently silence the accusing and judgemental voices by means of their silence.


Blessed are those whose tears of self-acceptance have transformed their fear and anger into the energy of reconciliation.


Blessed are those who have allowed their suffering to become a womb of compassion for others, whose pain has given birth to unconditional love.


Blessed are those whose openness provides a space for all voices on the shared journey of becoming who we are.


Blessed are those who have become so self-forgetful they no longer have anything to defend, who have lost themselves in God and become like windows of light.

If we want to help bring more peace to the world, the work always begins right here, right now.

Each of us can make a valuable contribution through watering and tending to the seeds of peace within ourselves.

We have each been given all that we need for a new way of seeing and a new way of being.

Christian meditation - a new way of seeing for a new way of being

If you feel inspired to meditate, you’re very welcome to join one of our free online meditation sessions or read one of our practice guides.


[2] Sister Wendy on Prayer (Bloomsbury, 2006), p.69

School of Contemplative Life
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