COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Prayer and peace

By Fred Cavaiani

"War and Peace," the classic novel by Leo Tolstoy in 1869, has been recognized as a classic book for years. It was probably the background for the novel "Doctor Zhivago," written by Boris Pasternak in 1957 and then made into a movie in 1965. These novels tell us much about the pain and suffering of war and clearly describe the inhumanity of mankind. Yet in the midst of such inhumanity there is a glimpse of love and kindness which keeps surfacing in the midst of tragedy. Yet war continues to surface. Peace seems to consistently elude us.

Why does peace consistently elude us when so many of us are civilized, well educated and intelligent? It is the eternal question of every generation. Peace eludes us because prayer eludes us. By prayer, I mean a quieting of our mind, heart and soul so we can listen to the messages within ourselves which keep telling us how to achieve peace. Prayer is the ability to sit quietly and listen. Some call this meditation or contemplation. It is frightening because it becomes the art of doing nothing. It is not to accomplish anything. It is not to analyze anything. It is not to assess how well we are doing. It is just quieting ourselves and receiving.

War happens because of a desire to retaliate after we have been hurt -physically or emotionally. There is a quick instinctual urge to get even and punish. Of course, when we do this, we are then considered the 'enemy' by those who have wronged us. We already see them as the 'enemy' because they have hurt us. Then for the next number of years we fight the 'enemy,' have our young sons and daughters killed before us because of our hurt feelings. After a number of years we convince ourselves that now it is time to end the war but our 'enemy' has not really changed. We have just become worn out and it doesn't make sense to keep having our youngest and finest killed anymore. Our 'enemy' has in fact become more entrenched and upset because they see us in their mind's eye as an even bigger enemy than they had fantasized when they first hurt us. And so it goes on and seems to happen in almost every decade. Sometimes we might go for two or three decades without a war, but not much more than that.

How do we stop this? Well, instead of War and Peace, let's start with Prayer and Peace. This Prayer and Peace is to begin in your everyday life. You make the change to become quiet each day. You make the change to listen to a God, Higher Power, Deity, Allah, Jesus Christ, Buddha or whomever you have chosen. Underneath everything there is a Power, a God than is waiting for us to experience Him or Her. This Spiritual Force can change our lives. But this Power can only permeate us with peace if we make a decision to shut up, be quiet and gently listen. When we do this we bring a peaceful energy into our small world of work, family and friends. People will experience peace when they talk to us and encounter us. Our small world then becomes a larger world. And peace begins to make sense. War begins to look crazier and more stupid. We let go of holding things against other people. It only destroys us when we do this. Instead of holding things against or over other people, we begin to greet other people with more warmth and kindness. We find ourselves seeing the glass half full instead of half empty. Our time spent in silence with God anchors us into a peaceful place. Wisdom permeates our lives. We learn how to let go of tension. We accept the limitations of other people and continue to love them. We stop becoming a coat hanger for other people to place their hang-ups and inaccurate assumptions. What happens is that other people's misery and false judgments and anger begin to fall back upon themselves.

Many years ago a person became very angry with me for taking her parking spot in a Meijer's parking lot. I had no idea that she was waiting for the same parking place. I was not in a hurry. This lady started yelling at me as I pulled into the parking spot because I had not seen her waiting. She then sped off to another parking spot muttering under her breath. I quickly drove over next to her and kindly told her she could take that parking place and that I hadn't seen her. She was so disarmed by my actions that she apologized for her behavior. When later I reflected on my behavior, I realized that the time I had spent in silence allowing a God or Power to affect me had given me a peace so I could bring a sense of peace to this little corner of the universe. I have never forgotten this experience and I believe that this lady probably never forgot this experience. Maybe this is how the world changes for the better. Not War and Peace, but Prayer and Peace which eventually brings us to Love and Peace.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, and a consultant for the University Center for Women's Medicine. His column runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is:, his website is

Published: Tue, Sep 25, 2012