“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” ~ John 14:27
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”~ John 16:33
The focus for the second week of Advent has been on Peace so I have been meditating on it. Several quotes, in addition to the scriptures above, came to mind as I sat. These are three of my favorites.
“Peace in the world cannot be made without peace in the heart.” ~ Henri Nouwen
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ~ Mother Teresa
“Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God.” ~ Oswald Chambers
What does peace actually look like and feel like? Even though Oswald says peace is not the absence of trouble we would like it to be, or at least I would. If we had peace wouldn’t there be an absence of war and other turmoil in the world? Wouldn’t there be an absence of war and turmoil in our own inner and outer life? Apparently, that is not what Jesus meant by the scripture verses above. Although, if we all had the peace of God perhaps we would eventually get there.
Having and keeping the Presence and Peace of God within really requires the practice of some form of silence and solitude—some form of meditation—some way of paying attention. There are several ways to practice this. Some take long quiet walks in nature to be with God. Many use Centering Prayer when they sit quietly and ignore, as much as possible, the distractions of the mind and heart. Lectio Divina—sitting with a Bible passage, not for study but for prayer and meditation, helps others.
Some people, including me, use all of these ways at different times. Perhaps you have another way. I have more silence, more peace and more of the sense of God’s presence then, and throughout the day, when I regularly practice Centering Prayer. I try to sit for 20 minutes twice each day. I don’t always make it, but when I do, I know the gift of peace Jesus was talking about and I am less afraid, not just while praying but all day. When I don’t have at least one of these periods, it isn’t long before I feel worried, fearful, anxious and empty.
Today, a prayer came out of the silence. It was this: Jesus, I’m grateful you have allowed this painful experience(s) in my life. Thank you. It has shown me things I would never have known without it. Wonderful and terrible things, inner things. Outer things. Things about myself that I didn’t know. These have been gifts to me and I am truly grateful. Thank you.”
What? Where did that prayer come from? I can guess. Actually I know it was the Presence of God within that gave it. I have more peace, but I probably do need just a bit more silence and gratitude (Ok a lot) to get this attitude to stick. Do I have scars? Yes. But the scars are reminders of how God has been with me for healing. We never know what tomorrow, or even the next minute, will bring but we do know who holds tomorrow. This inner Presence of God is what we have to give to our hurting neighbor and bring to a hurting world.
“I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him.” ~ Psalm 85:8