I have been signing off on emails & letters for more than 20 years with “peace on your head”. Many people will reply with a “peace on YOUR head” & I’ve heard that other people sign off with it too. I know that people might associate this phrase with me but I am absolutely not the source. I always feel like I should add a footnote to give the appropriate credit to the powerful woman who said it to me and thousands of others.
Her name is Lou Jean Walton. She was the director of the Social Work department at Valparaiso University, where I went to college. Just a few months ago the VALPO Alumni magazine featured her….you can read it here and maybe get a fuller picture of why her fierce blessing of Peace On Your Head meant so much to me. I only minored in social work (I majored in speech pathology, if you’re curious. The best laid plans obviously….) but was fortunate to take enough classes with her to take in her blessing at the end of class. At the end of every class she said “peace on your head”. If we were already packing up our books to go she would say it adamantly, as if she wasn’t going to let us run out of her classroom without being blessed. Even when she said it more casually, it still felt like she was holding my head strong in her hands, looking straight in my eyes as she said it; covering me with a fierce cloak of love, protection, courage, and grace. I think she knew we desperately needed it. Looking back, I didn’t even know how desperately I needed it. She knew that we all wanted to change the world, be fierce and consistent advocates for the most vulnerable , and still be human. She knew far better than us how difficult it would be to not lose hope. To stay trusting and open. To be kind, forgiving, and patient. To be wise without being jaded and cynical. To be confident, empowered, and humble.
It is hard. It is hard for me to stay hopeful right now. I am so angry by the recent school shootings. I am so angry that we are even having to discuss it AS IF IT WAS A COMPLICATED ISSUE. The solution to gun violence is not complicated. I am angry that we are having to fiercely defend and protect the water we bathe in, the land that we live on, and the air that we breathe. Why – For The Love Of God – is that not obvious?
So, these days I am repeating to myself and holding all of our precious and powerful heads; looking straight in our eyes and saying Peace On Your Head. We desperately need the blessing of courage, hope, humility, and LOVE. All The Love.
PEACE ON YOUR HEAD*, people. I mean it.
*Dr. Lou Jean Walton, professor of Social Work at Valparaiso University+