Peace is waiting…

It seems rather easy, almost effortless, to receive and experience peace when in a tranquil setting. When surrounded by the beauty of nature or standing on a mountain top looking down at the cars and passersby, that seem so minute and far away, it can be so much easier to let go of and release the cares or concerns that can bear down on us at times.

The song goes, “peace is flowing like a river.” Yes, that is true, except for the times when it is not…the times when someone or something becomes an obstacle or intrusion to our peace…the times when we allow external things to form a dam and block the flow. How do I recognize when that is happening? What can I do to stop or reverse it?

Oftentimes, peace can seem so elusive in the world. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about peace is that almost everyone seems to want it, yet instead of it being a constant companion it seems more of a guest that pops up here and there before disappearing. Why is that? What is it that causes peace to leave?

From song to saying, “Peace is not the absence of conflict; but the presence of God no matter what the conflict.” It seems to stand then that lack of peace is the absence of God. Or rather, lack of peace is a sign…a flashing beacon…the result of somehow, someway removing God or one’s higher source from the equation.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27). Perhaps sometimes peace slips away from me or becomes smothered beneath the weight of the world. How do I get out from underneath? Perhaps sometimes, whether knowingly or not, I become wrapped up in the busy-ness of the world or I seek peace, or a sense of security, outside rather than allowing it to rise from within; it has already been granted to me.

Peace is often equated with adjectives such as calm, mild-mannered, soft or gentle. These are all words that indicate or are often the result of surrender. When I think about the experience of peace, whether through hiking in the mountains, laughing and enjoying my children, or sitting by the bedside of a loved one battling illness, they all seem to be preceded by or involve a sense of gratitude and a handing over…letting go, quieting down, listening and simply “being.”

peaceiswaiting“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.”
– Isaiah 30:15

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Wondrous…

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather,
“I am in the heart of God.” And think not you can direct the course of love,
for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
– Kahlil Gibran

A young seal slowly traverses the sand toward the shore. A sight I have never seen before in the location where I stand. As it journeys, it pauses along the way, sometimes a longer, more drawn out pause, as if it were giving up. The three to four hundred feet to the shore seem more like miles as I observe. The seal is not alone though. With each stop, a steady, patient companion encourages the seal on, and soon a couple more join in support.

As I witness this journey from sand to shore, it makes me think of what happens when one catches a fish. As it is reeled in and out of the water, you can see it floundering. Then as it is removed from the hook or net, it continues to flounder back and forth, with even more vigor. However, once it is released back into water, it finds its bearings and once again, it swims.

We all have moments in life where we flounder as well as moments where we see others floundering. In some of those times, we may be close by or intimately involved and in other times, we may be watching from a distance. In either case, we can pray in a way that is up close and personal. Whether we realize it or not, our hopes and prayers are often the beginning steps toward God’s wondrous love flowing through us.

When we begin with and persevere with prayer, the path frequently becomes clear, showing us when and where it is time to act and when and where it is time to stand by, silently supporting and encouraging or allowing others to support and encourage us…waiting with hope and confidence…always trusting that we will reach the sea.

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“What wondrous love is this” arranged by Peder Eide

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!

What wondrous love is this
That caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down Beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

What wondrous love,
What wondrous love is this.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb,
Who is the great I AM,
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

To God and to the Lamb I will sing.

Waves of opportunity…

About a week ago, I was at the beach experiencing the powerful, driving wind and waves created by a storm that was off-shore. As I watched there was one wave after another. At times there were waves on the way out crashing into ones that were incoming. As wave after wave came, there were also gusts of wind that were almost constant, some carrying with them droplets or a fine mist of sea water.

While I would not want to be offshore, in the throes of the storm, it was an invigorating experience from where I stood. There was so much movement around…awakening so many senses…stimulating body, mind and soul. With each wave, sand, rocks, seaweed and more washed on shore, some remaining there and others swept back out to sea by the outgoing current. All of them, though, changed, whether visible or not, to varying degrees and, at the very least, by physical location.

Sometimes with lots of motion around us, things…more than things—people, values, sense of direction—can get lost or distorted in the shuffle. The moment of encounter can slip away…the opportunity for birth or re-birth that comes with each wave, whether gentle or rough and tumble, missed. Like the waves though possibility often reaches the shore, and beyond.

In the Gospel according to Luke, the tax collectors and sinners recognized Jesus as a source of Light, found treasure (their lost coin), so they draw near to him. The Pharisees and scribes had chosen a different kind of treasure. They believe they already “have it all.” They hold, or manipulate and control, power and all that they can. They are filled up with this “treasure” and all the illusion that comes with it. There is no room for anything else.

In order for the Pharisees and scribes to receive Jesus, they would need to let go of their love of power and control, and their fear of losing it. They would need to look beyond themselves. Without openness and meaningful encounter, living with greater purpose cannot occur.

“Never mistake motion for action.” – Ernest Hemingway

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In the Clouds…

A calm peaceful feeling stirs within as I watch the clouds make their way across the light blue sky on a breezy, sunny Sunday morning. Looking on I see clouds that vary in size, some even appearing to stretch…grow…spread out as they drift by. How similar to life.

Each event in one’s life varies. Although some experiences may seem to be the same or “repeats,” oftentimes there is something, even if ever so slight, that differs. The opportunity for change, of any kind, is always within and around us.

Some days there are storm clouds. Other days there are puffy, cotton ball clouds that seem like a soft place to rest. Then there are the streaking, strained or dissipating clouds, and still, other days there are no clouds at all. Whatever the day, the clouds are always passing. Sometimes they pass slowly and sometimes more quickly. What remains throughout and beyond though, is hope…possibility…Light.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
– Walt Whitman

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