“By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
from Luke 1:57-80
“Power, success, happiness as the world knows them,
are his who will fight for them hard enough.
But peace, love, joy are only from God.”
Asking a mom of two young kids with one-and-a-half full-time jobs to write about “peace” is a bit like asking someone with lactose intolerance what kind of cheese used to be their favorite. (I just did this last week so karma is apparently a thing).
Whether my toddler is grabbing her swimsuit and heading for the front door at 5:45am because WE ARE GOING TO THE POOL, MOM! or my 7-year-old is reminding me at 9pm the night before that oh, yeah, he needs new goggles for swim camp, and the dishes are piled a mile high in the sink, and I have papers to grade before I can sleep – there aren’t many moments of ease and rest at this stage of my life.
And yet – we all have been sleeping like rocks this summer (I’m knocking on wood right now because I don’t want to jinx this). We are in the time of playgrounds and camps and swimming and hikes and sunburns and hastily-thrown-together meals. At work, it’s ending fiscal years and course redevelopment and write, write, write.
But at the end of the day, when the kids are asleep and a heavy but gentle silence comes over the house – there’s peace. And it feels like a deeper peace because of the work and busy-ness of the day. Just like my children sleep more soundly after a day of rough play, my sense of peace is more sure and solid when I’ve been moving, working, striving, struggling, and growing.
It’s tempting to think that I can acquire this peace through some sort of transaction or achievement – does 2 hours of swimming give me a good bedtime, or 4? If I have the right job, attend the protest, endure life’s annoyances without whining, remember to write thank-you notes – all of these things will result in peace of mind, right? Is there some sort of algorithm? (Asking for a friend).
Peace should be our reward for putting in the time, for making the effort, for moving the world – and our own selves – in a positive direction. And yet I know too many people who do all the things well and cannot find peace. I’ve had too many nights myself where I’ve done all the things “right” and my frustration and exhaustion stays with me until I fall asleep – no peace to be found.
So maybe peace is less a reward than a gift that comes regardless of what we’ve done to “deserve” or earn it. It’s the gentle reminder that tomorrow is another chance to try again, that today has been enough. With the gift of peace, my day can be put behind me for a breath or two, whether it was successful or not. C.S. Lewis wrote, “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from himself because it is not there – there is no such thing.” In these moments of surrender, gratitude, and stillness, the peace I feel is by the grace of God. No algorithms in sight.
by Jen McClendon
Photo: Virginia Street Bridge over the Truckee River at Night, Kris Marshall
As you go about your day, keep your eyes open.
When do you find “Peace”?
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