The Queen of My Self

–excerpts from “Peace” in Uncommon Gratitude
by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams (Liturgical Press)

…in my mind is the memory of one lone Chinese student who, rising from the midst of the protesters in Tiananmen Square, stood in front of a moving tank whose orders were to sweep the square empty of anyone who dared to remain there once ordered to leave. The boy stood, head bowed, shoulders straight, feet planted squarely on the pavement. It was one unarmed boy against a Chinese tank. Suddenly, the tank stopped moving.

The power of the spirit had never been more clear than in the face-off between the tank and the thin young man. All the power in the world could not make the young man move, could not destroy his strength of spirit, could not break his resolve. Nor could it move the driver of the tank to an act of public barbarism in the name of public order.

“Peace hath her victories,” Milton wrote, “no less renowned than war.” All the weapons in the world, in other words, were, in the end, for nothing.

Peace is such a powerful presence.

A commitment to peace, to being peaceful, to peacefulness draws from a very deep well. It is a source beyond the corruptions of either ambition or pride. It transcends addiction to either power or personality cults.

And how does peace come? Simple. By accepting who we are and what we have as enough for us. By recognizing and respecting who the other is and what they have as theirs. By finding within ourselves “the pearl of great price,” the richest thing there is in life, the sense of the presence of God who loves and companions us through all the pressures of life.

Then we find that we have changed. We have become peaceful. We have come to realize that we have all we need. We begin to see that our own role in life is only to spread the peace we have.

Then we begin to dedicate ourselves to that highest possible level of humanity that not only does good but, most of all, does no harm. To do no harm requires real care, genuine compassion, true realization that the glow of the other diminishes no glow of my own.

So we say an alleluia for the coming of peace, for the death of ambition, for the passing of pride that enables us to be happy with who we are and what we have.
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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to


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