Peace is the way, the method. Peace is the end. Without peace we have no trust. Without peace we have no love. Without peace, how can we say we love God? For Jesus brought us his peace, the peace that he lived, [John 14:27] that is beyond anything that the world offers. It is the peace that comes from completely trusting in the providence of God. It comes from resting in God’s love. It is not just the outcome of a trust in God, it is also the way to that trust.
And what is peace? It is the absence of war within ourselves, with various parts of ourselves. It is the result of a daily/hourly surrender to what is in our lives. It comes from gratitude for the presence of God in our lives. It is the absence of anxiety or fear; it is knowing deep within ourselves that we are okay no matter what happens to us, no matter whether we live or die. Peace is the ability to rest in God’s arms, in his kingdom, knowing that he is totally in charge and that we are in his care.
Peace means that we are not war with anyone else. We are not defensive about who we are or what we have done. We do not project our unconscious shame and guilt onto others. We see others for who they are in total, just like we see ourselves, warts and all, and accept all that we are.
This summer I have been learning that peace is the way, that I should not start anything until I can totally relax and breathe freely, and can keep that peace throughout any action. Until now I have done everything from a sort of anxiety that it won’t get done, or I won’t do it the right way, or I don’t have the skills to get the job done or that the end product will be judged as defective. Anxiety has been the major driver in my life. And that anxiety has come from a deep-seated distrust of myself and a lack of confidence in my place in the scheme of things. And a lack of real trust in God’s love for me.
This summer I have been busier that ever, a situation that would have caused more anxiety in the past. Sometime in July there was a clear directive within me to slow down before I started a project. Only when I could maintain a relaxed breath was I to start anything. And what I found was that every task went more smoothly or that I was relaxed even when some snag arose.
I have driven places without anxiety about being on time. I have edited my work without pressure. I have set aside tasks when I had clarity about not completing them as I had planned. I have let God lead and seen the results of that trust. I have just spent two weeks in California helping with and attending my son’s wedding. There I worked a lot under the pressure of a deadline without feeling pushed. I trusted God that what I was given to do would be completed in time. I have been at peace most of the time.
There were times when I had to remind myself that the way was peace. That the timing was God’s. That the work would get done. That I had the skills to do it. That I could enjoy what I was doing and be at peace, too.
And then there was the tiredness after it was over; I was more tired than I’ve ever been, sitting that Sunday after the wedding like a bump on a log, totally spent. And at peace, without apology, doing what little I had the energy to do, content to let my son and daughter and their spouses plan what happened.
Peace has been the way and the end. Peace is way underrated as a way of operating in the world. This peace is the result of a deep, surrendered relationship with God. It is the result of trusting totally in God and his care for each of us. It is living that trust, not just giving lip service to it.
If we’re at peace with God and in our lives, then that peace communicates to everyone we meet. It is infectious, like a communicable disease, but not. It quietly, peacefully challenges all other modes of being and doing. We have a model of peace in the world right now. His name is Pope Francis. Wherever he goes, people—not just Catholics and other Christians– listen and feel gratitude for the issues he is highlighting—poverty, climate change, nations and peoples getting along. He doesn’t preach at people, he lives these issues deep within himself. And like St. Francis, his namesake, taught his monks, he preaches the Gospel wherever he goes and uses words if he has to.
Questions to ponder over the week: What are the major drivers of my behavior? Anxiety? Fear? Peace? Love? How much do I trust God on a scale of 1 to 10? Is it something I just give lip-service to? Or have I given my fears and anxieties up to God? Do I trust him totally? Am I willing to try living in peace?
This week’s blessing: May we live in peace and do what we were created to do in this world. May every step be done in peace. May we let go of anxiety and fear and anger and embrace love, trust, patience and peace.
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