Tag Archives: peace

Peace be with you

Prayer for Peace by American artist Cindy Walker

Twice the resurrected Jesus greets his frighten disciples with the words, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19, 26).  This is more than the absence of conflict.  In Hebrew peace, shalom, means fullness or wholeness, having all that you need to be fully alive.

Peace is something  for which many of us still seek.  We may not fear the direct persecution which the early disciple’s feared, but we feel overwhelmed at times by the complexity and uncertainty of modern life.  We fear that our jobs may disappear, or our children may stray, or our health may fail.  The news media is unrelenting in showing us the potential disasters we face.  We long for peace, deep personal peace.

Jesus offers peace, but not the absence of conflict or storm.  When he appeared to the disciples, he showed them his scars from the cross.  He had suffered and died.  Yet the darkness of death could not hold him.  Jesus’ death seems the very opposite of peace.  Yet, as Frederick Buechner writes,

The contradiction is resolved when you realize that, for Jesus, peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle, but the presence of love. (Beyond Words, p. 307)

Jesus’ presence gave assurance of peace and love to the scared disciples.  His presence today gives the same benefit. 

How have you experienced God’s love and peace this week?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my life to be full and at peace with you.

Holy Place of Peace

Hiking below Mt. Rainier

This morning I lead a class on prayer and one of the prayer exercises was a guided meditation, based on Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  One method that has helped me enter into silent meditation is to take an imaginary trip to a favorite place that emotes peace.  Many people (especially during a Minnesota winter) might choose a tropical beach with warm breezes and rhythmic surf.  Or a beautiful garden that is under a brilliant blue sky and filled with fragrant blooms.  I choose the Cowlitz Ridge near Mt. Rainier.

I hiked the ridge once, nearly forty years ago.  The week before I left for my freshman year of college, my friend Marv and I decided on one last hike together.  We picked a three-day trip along the Wonderland trail which circles Mt. Rainier.  At first we climbed the steep switchbacks up out of the dark forested river canyon.  As we near the top of the ridge we stepped out of the dark forest into brilliant sunshine and a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier.  We camped in that meadow for two nights, soaking up the beauty and wonder of that ridge.

Now whenever I want a special time of prayer, I go on an imaginary journey to that same spot.  The only difference is that I take the imaginary trip with Jesus as my guide and friend.  For many reason, I find rest, comfort, strength, hope in visualizing him there with me.  As I meditate a deep abiding peace grows up around me.  I realize that I could imagine Jesus with me in other locations, but that spot has become a very holy spot.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever make the hike back to Cowlitz Ridge.  I might, but it is not essential to my spiritual life.  The essential part remains Jesus who is my guide and source of peace and joy wherever I am.

 Has guided meditation helped you in your spiritual journey?  Where do you find God’s peace?

Life of Pi

 

Life o Pi

Yesterday I wrote about a visit to a church in the novel Still Alice.  That scene stands in sharp contrast to the church visit  described in Life of Pi by Yann Martel, the other novel I am reading.  Whereas Alice receives little spiritual comfort from her short visit , Piscine (Pi) takes a much more patient approach to his visit.  He is a young teenager, who is on a spiritual quest in his native India.  While his family is on vacation, he climbs a hill to a Christian church and walks around it, afraid at first to enter.  Behind the church he discovers the rectory and from a hiding place, he secretly observes the parish priest inside.   After a period of observation Pi states,

“I was filled with a sense of peace.  But more than the setting, what arrested me was my intuitive understanding that he was there -open, patient – in case someone, anyone, should want to talk with him; a problem of the soul, a heaviness of the heart, a darkness of the conscience, he would listen with love.  He as a man whose profession it was to love, and he would offer comfort and guidance as best he could.” p. 52

Pi eventually walks into the rectory and has several long conversations with the priest.   Those conversation may be worthy of other posts, but the main point today is how does one prepare such an open, receptive setting for those who come on spiritual quests?  Would those seeking even come to a church today?  How do we practice true hospitality?