A Place of Peace

December 30, 2010


 My parents failed me
They did not know how to love
Their lives were broken 
Not able to trust people
They made decisions that hurt

I’m also flawed and broken
I’ve harmed others with actions
Unintentionally caused pain
Guilt imprisoned me
A love much higher found me
Forgave and renewed my soul

When I’m confronted
With the wrongs that I have done
I look through other’s eyes
I see my selfish ways
I could not bear to see it
If mercy was not with me

It became mine to search out
What was true and what was not
How to have relationships
With myself and others 

Two things I cherish
Wisdom and understanding
They are paths to peace
Patience is the fruit
For those who will learn to wait
From a place of peace
Seeing marvelous things
Learning the rhythm of time
I’ve learned to reverence life
I arise to meet the day
I found rest and contentment
Untouched by trouble
Then I gain knowledge
Of how to love another
To see the world through their eyes
Understand their world
To look with great compassion
Accept and forgive with love
© Terry S. Smith
December 25, 2010
Reflections written as I read through Proverbs 19 and John 15, (Jesus final words to his friends before he died).

I searched out a way to love.




An unspoken dream
That is in everyone
A longing within
This dream articulated
In universal language


I had a dream as a child
I wanted a home with peace
An atmosphere of loving care
To celebrate life


Moments of oneness
I remember them so well
Laughter and playing
Learning a rhythm of joy
Experienced in the child


I got a glimpse of it
The first seven years of life
Playing ball with the neighbors
Being held with love


Children need a holding place
Of personal tender care
Where they feel safe and secure
Untouched by trouble


The home is the place
Where joy is at the center
Laughter the result
Forgiveness reigns all around
The freedom to discover


I will tell the world
That peace is within their reach
What you need first is desire
Then a clear vision
If it is there you will find it
Relationships that flourish


I’ll never give up
Living peace and sharing it
It is my great joy


Those who want to know
Who are searching with their heart
Will certainly find
It will take your best thinking
Then faith and courage to act


It is in practicing
The things that you know are true
You’ll discover more


There are daily practices
I’ve discovered on the way
That are essential to me
For living in joy


I awoke from a dream this morning, with my heart going out to the children who long to be held, and to experience home as a safe place.  I felt that safety as a little child, although my parents as teenagers did not know how to provide it.  There was extended family, (and neighbors) who provided this safety until  my family unit fell apart.  I believe there is a longing in everyone to find a place of peace where joy sits at the center.  I want to be a part of pointing the way to this authentic life that is available to all.  These reflections came out of my dream last night, and after meditating on Proverbs 20 and John 15.

© Terry S. Smith



The following article and picture appeared on the front page of the Burlington Daily Times on December 24, 1985, in metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts. 


A Christmas Story – December 24, 1985


A man painfully remembers: years of confusion, guilt, and learning to survive in a world where hate and fear consumed his childhood.

When he was seven years old, his mother stood on the hood of the car, kicked the windshield in and cursed the boy’s father to hell.

When the boy was eight, divorce and alcoholism robbed him of his mother.  The parent’s failure, anger, and hate tore the relationship apart and another family unit fragmented.

This is a story about a mother and son coming together after eighteen years, and about the One who stirred their hearts into a love that brought healing and hope to a once broken relationship.


Carol, Sid, Mama, Robert and Terry


I had always wondered about her.  She was beautiful, but many of my memories were painful, reinforced by my father’s hatred for her.  While I was growing up, he cut me off from anyone who cared about her.

Then during my last year of graduate school, I found where she lived, discovering that in a city of 600,000 people, I was driving past her house daily.

Should I go see her?  What would she be like now?  She would be forty-five years old.  Could I understand this woman who left four young children, never again to be involved in their childhood?

She didn’t know who I was when my wife and I knocked on her door in October of 1968.  But a new journey began.

Her story was hard.  She had married at sixteen, had three children before age twenty-one.  She married five times, was an alcoholic, and currently was living with a man who was not her husband.

She hated herself.  She had attempted suicide by cutting her throat, jumping out of a car going eighty miles an hour, and by putting a gun to her head and pulling the trigger.

But, the gun misfired.  It fell on the floor, blowing a hole in the wall.  She lived!

The reunion with her son helped her to realize she could start over again.  She began to fight!  But it was like trying to climb a greased slide.  My family — a wife and two babies — now included this woman, my mother, who, after wanting to die all these years, now had a desire to live.

The failure I experienced in my childhood caused me to pursue the field of counseling to learn how to live in relationships, and not make the same mistakes my parents made.   There had to be a way to live in this world and not be victimized by failure, anger, insecurity and guilt.

People can come back together and healing can take place in relationships.  But how?  How could this woman ever have forgiven herself for leaving her children?  How could the children have ever forgiven her for abandoning them?

As a family counselor in Burlington, I have chosen, for a model, one person in history who knew how to love and treat human beings.  I find very few people who have read his life.  Not many are willing to give and extend mercy toward those who hurt them.  Not many are willing to say: “I am wrong!”; “I am sorry!”; “Forgive me!”

The little baby whose birthday the world celebrates at this time of the year grew up to be a man.  He met a woman at the well who had been married five times and was living with a man not her husband.  The man at the well treated the woman with dignity, respect, consideration, and compassion.   It changed her life.

The angels announced at his birth that he has come to bring good tidings of great joy.  The woman at the well experienced it the day she met him.  I have tested it on the streets of the twentieth century and it holds today.  My mother found hope, forgiveness, and new beginnings because this man’s evaluation of human worth represented by the heart of the God and Father of us all.

Our challenge at this season is to look past the commercialism of Christmas.  To look beyond the religious ritual, and to sense the mystery of the One who came among us to demonstrate and to give a new quality of life.

I’ve just returned from a family wedding.  It was the first time in thirty-five years the family was together.  My mother flew back with us, and will celebrate her first New England Christmas with me and my family.  We realize that we owe this reunion to the One whose perspective on life continues to bring into a dark world hope and light.

Our hearts are full of thanksgiving as we celebrate the reality of his presence.


My mother died in the year 2000, at the age seventy-seven.  She experienced in her heart, soul, and mind, the joy of God’s peace.


Cry of My Heart

December 6, 2010

I grew up in fear
My parent’s relationship
Was broken and dark
They were ill prepared to love
Hostility and hate came
Home – not a place of safety
Home – not a place where peace dwelled
Home – not a place where joy filled
A longing deferred
Fear was realized
Love was shattered by these two
Four children suffered
All around were broken hearts
Could the cycle be broken
Was there a way to find peace
Could there be love in marriage
And how does that work
I found a way to find life
I listened to my longing
Imagined family
Where there was great peace
Love and peace the atmosphere
I could see it in my mind
Then I set on my journey
Fifty years ago
My dream compelled me
Determined not to repeat
The story of my childhood
For my children’s life
They are grown now and can tell
The cycle has been broken
There are certain things
I have learned to hold sacred
And practice each day
Beliefs that refresh my soul
And give to others great joy
Seeking peace was a secret
It gave me the right questions
Then I practiced what I found
Voices I could trust
For my father and mother
Who were unable to give
I discovered larger loves
Who’ve been my teachers
I have learned to wait
To be strong and take heart
I discovered the goodness
And focus on truth
The cry of my heart 
Was heard by a higher love
I cannot explain
But in practicing his thoughts
I found my self comforted
My heart leaps for joy
Unexplainable friendship
That’s larger than death
Has given me confidence
To see what matters most
His words breathe life into me
My focus intentional
Introduces me to joy
His truth restores
© Terry S. Smith
December 6, 2010
Reflections written early in the morning after meditating on Psalms 26-29; John 15.