By Avram Chetron: When I reflect on personal growth, it's difficult to separate the few moments when real change happens from all the ideas about spirituality that I've embraced or thought worthy.

What keeps us from inner peace is very simply not realizing or accepting our true identity. We think we are a body, born to live and all having the same destiny (i.e. death). The reality is that you are Spirit, ageless, formless, timeless, eternal, completely, invulnerable, healed, whole and One with Source. Spirit is eternal; it can never die and cannot be threatened. That truth brings peace to a frantic mind when you let go of ego identity and the thoughts that try to convince you that you are a body, with certain needs, DNA, subject to germs, illnesses, of a particular birth identity and belonging to an ethnic group. There are thousands of forms of separation in the world but all have the same identity: Sprit! But what happens when the body dies? It is gently laid down, thanked for its usefulness and your true identity as Spirit continues.

A good friend of mine died recently. She had gone through a year of cancer treatment. When she first became sick and the terrible word "cancer" was mentioned by her Doctor, and since we were on similar spiritual paths, I gently reminded her of her true identity and that she was not her body. "I know that!" she said emphatically! Everyone who knew her, Doctors, radiologists, friends and family were shown by her actions via her great Spirit, that she was indeed not her body. Yes her body was loosing its hair and weight and yes it was not very hungry but she did not identify with it as being her Self. She knew her true Self as Spirit, created by and One with All, loving, lovable and loved.

Love was who she was, no matter the condition of the body. She gave Love in the silent and verbal blessings she offered, not just to those whom she knew but to everyone she met in stores or restaurants. She never met a "stranger." If you happen to recall meeting a perky lady with a colorful hat, sharing a statement of hope or encouragement, that was her. She never excluded anyone from her Love, just like God! She had collection of colorful hats matching the outfit of the day, perched in a cocky manner on her bald head. Sometimes she took the hat off just to show she did not care because, after all, she was not her body image or her ego.

The time finally came when she had to wear an oxygen tube in her nose. Would that stop her? She went everywhere dragging the metal oxygen canister along behind her and even performed at Rogue Valley Peace Choir performances. She always asked for help when she needed it to maneuver the canister. Many probably thought "Why doesn't she just stay home and take it easy?" But she was showing that she was not going to let a little thing like a metal canister or a body with cancer, stop her from expressing joy and Love! She was teaching, those who were lucky enough to know her, that she did not see herself as being a sick body. She had one but it was not who she was! She finally left her body lying on the bed like a shell or a chrysalis and with grace and a peace that is not of this world, her Spirit exited the illusion. What is the point of all this? It is a mystery, however, the body is a means for communication; we care for it as an aid in negotiating the classroom of life and to learn our lessons. But it is neutral, not the teacher or our identity. My friend did not slink away to hide the body in the dying process. She taught that it was not who she was "¦ and neither are you. For inner peace, realize and identify with the Spirit Self, totally free to forgive and free to love.

Ashlander Sally McKirgan, artist and poet, is a member of the Rogue Valley Peace Choir. To contribute an article about what inner peace means to you, send your 650-word article to innerpeace@q.com.