Be nice, feel good!
By practicing unconditional kindness towards all life in all of its expressions, human beings begin to feel good. “Benevolence” is one of twelve virtues of peace Nantucket Peaceworks invites people to practice. Each virtue is a step on the path to inner peace. Spend some time with us and learn more about our practice-and-reflection approach to living the virtues of peace.
We believe there are many different paths to peace and each individual has his or her own unique version. Whichever path you choose, pursue it with enthusiasm and devotion. Live with quiet passion, following your own path to inner peace and leading by example. Practice peace.
Maximus Freeman, Founder and Director
Walking through the woods has always calmed me. Spending time alone among the trees is part of my daily spiritual practice. But in my early years I struggled with anxiety and unhappiness. Perhaps it’s no surprise that my working career has been spent caring for trees, most recently the trees on beautiful Nantucket Island. In contrast to these great silent beings, complete in themselves, we humans seem filled with strife and worry. I began to wonder seriously what it takes to bring our restless spirits to peace.
My search began with the simple, positive messages of Dale Carnegie and his basic premise that thoughts affect reality. As I read more deeply from a range of spiritual teachers, notably Adyashanti and David Hawkins, I began to understand that inner peace does not depend on circumstances or situations, but on spiritual development. The human self is profoundly influenced by the physical, from DNA to hormones to the most-traveled pathways in the brain. Spiritual development helps human beings respond to life’s events in a way that transcends the merely physical. Delving widely into the literature of spiritual development, I began to compile a list of “virtues” that seemed to predominate among great spiritual leaders.
In a series of conversations with Rev. Jennifer Brooks, then minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church on Nantucket Island, the idea emerged that the practice of the virtues of peace promotes spiritual development. Reflection on the real-life circumstances where that practice is tested is a way to affirm and accelerate spiritual development. In the practice-and-reflection approach of Nantucket Peaceworks, a small group setting and structured format support and sustain both practice and reflection.
I am proud father of three amazing young men who together have taught me much about the challenges and rewards of the practice of peace. I love them deeply and am grateful for the opportunity to be their father.
Rev. Jennifer Brooks, Lead Facilitator
I’m a Unitarian Universalist minister currently serving the UU Church at Washington Crossing in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, and co-author (with Maximus Freeman) of the Virtues of Peace practice-and-reflection curriculum.
I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay, and raised by parents who love both water and wilderness. My ancestors were voyageurs, freethinkers, immigrants, revolutionaries. My spirituality is grounded in the beauty of the natural world and a feeling of connection to all that is. With a background in law and international development, I’ve had the opportunity to work with diverse people in multicultural settings to create positive change. The greatest adventures of my life have happened when I was open to new experiences.
My two children and I are, together, a “United Nations family” (Asian-American, African-American, and European-American) (they are both adopted). From the time they were very young, our dinner-table conversations reflected my children’s personal experience with racism and racial identity, leading to talk about morality, ethics, rights, responsibilities, and the risks of making assumptions. Their perspectives have reinforced my commitment to creating justice in the world.
The colorful tapestry of my life informs and energizes my work as a parish minister. I’ve learned the importance of treating people with respect, listening carefully, and trying to spot the way that different “perception filters” create misunderstanding. The most satisfying moment is when people who see things differently begin to understand one another. It may not cause them to agree, but it keeps them working together, keeps them moving toward compassion. Life is a journey, and we’re all traveling in the same “blue boat home.”
Developing ourselves as peaceful beings is an important first step toward a peaceful world. The practice-and-reflection approach of Nantucket Peaceworks leads participants on a voyage of self-discovery and spiritual development. The practice of peace is its own reward.