Tuesday, April 17, 2012
"Peace" is the first thing the Risen Jesus says to the disciples on the evening of the resurrection in John's Gospel. Peace (Shalom) is the customary Jewish greeting, but to make it clear that he is not just greeting them, he repeats "Peace." (20:10-21) He is not wishing them peace, but telling them that his presence brings them peace.
The peace that Jesus brings is not the absence of war. His peace can exist even in the midst of war and suffering and disappointments.
The source of this kind of deep peace is our awareness of the presence of the Risen Jesus in us and around us and among us. The constant presence of the One who has conquered sin and death assures us that nothing can harm us in any ultimate way.
I have thought a lot about what peace means since my teen years. I remember asking myself when I was worried about a test how important this would be to me in ten years. A kind of stab at peace. Through the years, as more serious problems came up, I needed more than that kind of reasoning. I needed faith. Not just believing that Jesus was living within me, but believing in Jesus living within me. Learning to count on his gracious and all powerful love.
I found ways to pray that helped me to rest in this faith, especially centering prayer which has been an essential part of my life for more than 30 years now.
Music has also added to my peace. On a 1988 DVD "Jewel Lake" Bill Douglas put this Gaelic blessing to a lovely sort of chant that captured the deep peace of the words:
Deep Peace of the running wave to you
Deep Peace of the flowing air to you
Deep Peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep Peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep Peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep Peace to you.
(Even though the snow came on April 11, by evening this was the peaceful scene out my back door.)