“Opus” is a Latin noun that means “a work,” and is commonly used to describe a complex masterpiece. “Opus” is an old word that captures the ageless, artful complexity of creating a true “masterpeace” -- pervasive peace that penetrates beyond comforting facades. The word “opus” reminds us that authentic peace requires work, courageous work, to heal scattered pieces of self. It also requires work to penetrate defensive, intimidating inner terrain that often prevents us from encountering our loving, grace-filled, compassionate self that hides its vulnerability in our depths. Once we are able to do this, however, we move from sole to soul.
Ultimately, Opus Peace is a movement to teach how to open our hearts to losing and failing, paradoxically, becoming whole in the process. Re-owning, re-homing, and re-Vitalizing scattered pieces of self (often hidden behind facades or exiled into unconsciousness) precipitate healing.
Opus Peace focuses on creating pervasive, personal peace. The basis for the work of Opus Peace lies in our beliefs about where and how authentic peace is cultivated and sustained. Satisfying needs for personal comfort and security is not enough to fulfill deeper longings for peace. Authentic peace is also more than just trying to control the chaos in our lives. Pervasive personal peace is a work of art – an Opus – that requires skill and grace to achieve. This kind of peace requires freeing aspects of ourselves that we’ve silenced or, worse, exiled into unconsciousness. This often involves helping people learn how to love, forgive, and trust themselves to navigate in the world again by disarming their heart while cultivating personal intimacy with scattered aspects of self.
Opus Peace is not a religious organization, nor is it affiliated with any religious organizations. We do, however, recognize that within each of us there is a Timeless Source of Energy that is called by many names and worshiped in different ways. Opus Peace acknowledges this Inner Source without any religious connotations. Our goal is to provide tools that create safe emotional environments that penetrate fear and resistance which separate us from our hero within – our spiritual Source – our sense of being.
We are not an organization that fosters an ideal of world peace. We recognize, however, that on a deeper level, humankind is connected; our energy affects each other. Cultivating a deeply-resonant inner peace creates space and energy for world peace; likewise, lack of personal peace contributes chaotic energy to the world around us that others might then act upon.
Our pledge to you is that we will allow neither fear nor personal or organizational ego interfere with Opus Peace decision-making or policies. Rather, when fear lures us into ego, we will acknowledge it and realign ourselves with our Source so that grace can fuel us.
Here is the message Deborah relayed that day. It provides insight into the origins of Opus Peace:
“There are important decisions we all make as we traverse our lives. When we were young, we did not always well-appreciate the importance of many of these decisions and their life-lasting impact. I don’t remember making a conscious decision to excel in school when I was a child. I loved learning and I got attention for being a good student. I was happy to do whatever it took to achieve educational success.
Marriage is another important decision many of us make. I knew its importance, yet at age 19, I didn’t really realize how pervasive that decision would be. All I really knew was that I was in love with a man who wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He was handsome, enjoyed doing many of the things I enjoyed, and he wanted a family. Nothing else seemed to matter. It didn’t seem like I needed to make a conscious decision to have children. It was what I had always wanted. Little did I realize how all-consuming and life-lasting that commitment would be. Although it didn’t always come naturally, I learned how to protect and advocate for my children, in many ways becoming a better mother to them as they got older because I was growing up myself.
My decision to become a nurse was certainly one that I had well thought out. However, the decision was based primarily on practical considerations: flexible hours, variety of work settings, good money, and in the field of science which was my particular interest. Little did I realize how much that decision would change and grow me – especially the decision to work with Veterans, and more importantly, to work in Hospice. My decision to speak and write about Veterans and Hospice work in some ways, has not seemed like a conscious decision. Looking back, it seems like it was simply Destiny calling. Repeatedly, I was placed in situations that gave me voice to a unique perspective that others eagerly wanted to hear about and no one had previously articulated. Although the original manuscript for all three books (yes, one more is to come) was written over a four year span, the intense writing took about 6 months. I wrote into all hours of the day and night; there were times when I hardly slept for days on end. Yet, I was not fatigued. In fact, just the opposite. I literally could feel the crown of my head open and the energy was so intense that I felt expanded into my own soul. At these times, my writing was effortless, almost automatic, as if I were simply the witness. One day at work, I asked one of the nurses a question, and she didn’t answer me even though she was looking directly at me. I repeated my question, and she still didn’t answer. A third time I asked, shaking her to see what was wrong. She mumbled something that I didn’t understand and then avoided me. Later, she came to me and told me that she was speechless because when she looked at me earlier, all she could see was a dazzling light that was so intense that she couldn’t believe that everyone else wasn’t seeing it too. Even though I was stunned with what she was telling me, I was not surprised because I could feel the force of the energy expanding through me when I wrote. Although I didn’t know what to call that energy then, I now know it to be Grace.
My decision to retire from the VA this past year did not come easily and yet, in some ways, was a decision that did not seem mine to make. With the growing interest in my work, increased demand for speaking, and a second book soon to appear, conflicts of interest were becoming more apparent. So, in many ways, I had no choice but to leave if I was going to continue on a path I seemed destined to fulfill.
My decision to come before you today, in the way that I am doing, is a decision that has not come lightly. Unlike many of the life-changing decisions that I’ve just described, I am fully aware of how life-changing this decision is. It comes from many years of Advent seasons in which I have carefully prayed for willingness to birth more love into the world – especially toward the people in my life that I did not love enough, and in some cases, didn’t love at all. It comes from many seasons of Lent in which I go out into the wilderness of my Soul to confront my demons and the many ways I turn away from God, turning to false gods that compete for my time, energy, and attention. It comes from twice daily meditation for the past year – a practice that had been long overdue and now a most welcome retreat into silence with my beloved. It comes from 3 dreams that I’ve had in which it has been made clear to me that I needed to bring God out of the shadows so she didn’t have to work so hard to get me to do her will – yes, in my dream, God was a woman – and a black woman at that! Today’s decision comes from six friends who for my birthday this year as I retired, bought me a portable labyrinth and then enacted a commissioning ritual to launch me on my new journey. I remember walking out of that labyrinth that day with tears in my eyes. They were unusual tears, almost indescribable. One dimension of the tears validated the suffering I had been through to get to that day. Some of the tears were tears of joy – primarily that I was blessed enough to have 6 friends who knew me so well as to know what my Soul needed and they were willing to provide that sustenance. And some of the tears were tears of trepidation – a foreshadowing of what I knew was coming, even though I did not know – a total surrendering to God’s will for my life. It was scary to even think about, yet I knew it was coming. I didn’t like the uncertainty of it. I still don’t. What if God asks me to do something I don’t want to do? What if I succumb to my fears and can’t respond the way I’m supposed to? What if I don’t like the life He’s calling me to – a life that I don’t even know what it is? During advent this year, my prayer was: “Dear God, help me know and rejoice in Your vision for my life so I can redeem the destiny I was born to fulfill.” In meditation one morning early in the Advent season, a question arose from deep within. The question was: “Why are you afraid to live the life you have now?” I was startled, silently arguing back, “But I’m not afraid to live my life!” To which, the response was: “The life you have RIGHT NOW, why are you afraid to live it, just as it is?” I was speechless. There was the epiphany I was asking for. While I was busy coveting the life I was trying to imagine having and coveting the past for its injustices, I was missing the joys and griefs of my everyday life. I needed to let go of my fear and open up to God’s love for me so that Grace could be the fuel for my life. I suspect my outward life will not change as dramatically as my inward life will. HOW I make decisions, my methods of operation, will change because God is no longer in my shadows.
So, I stand before you today, publicly proclaiming my desire to love God – to love God enough to surrender my life to Him/Her. This book is simply a symbol of that life. I well know that this book is going to take me places that I might have no desire to go, and yet I will go. I need your help to do this. To help me discern His will from my own and to hold me accountable when I deceive myself by covering up my fears or justifying my actions. And I need you to pray for me. I need your prayers to be the lamp unto my feet. I need you to pray that every day I love God more.
I close by summing up my 60 years on this Earth and my 30 years of personally working with 10,000 Veterans as they’ve died in 2 sentences. And these two sentences are: "Live your life for God, however you conceive Him or Her or It to be. On your deathbed, it will be the only thing that matters.”
Each year, the Opus Peace team takes time to contemplate our relationship with Opus Peace by discerning our soul's voice to be an agent for peace in the world. Then, we have a ceremony demonstrating our commitment with a pledge:
I declare my intention to be honest about who I am and who I am not. I will not allow my fear to silence my voice.
I declare my intention to cultivate the courage to re-own, re-home, and re-Vitalize scattered pieces of myself that I would prefer to avoid. I will not allow my resistance to keep me from doing my inner work.
I declare my intention to let grace empower me so that I can serve others. I dare to trust grace to live its life through me.
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