Then, over the last couple weeks or so, a few things I experienced built up to disturb my peace. Images on my magic rectangle. Good friends in the toughest times. And the need to protect a learning community that calls itself family. All of a sudden, I saw violence all around me, crazy and senseless, and I wondered, How can I possibly make peace out of all this? What can one person do in the face of violence, fear and suffering?
If a person could make peace, I guess, that person would certainly be a lucky dog. Is that what you meant Jesus? That humanity was such a stranger to peace that it was Vegas-odds against bringing it into the world?
But, really, we know we are lying.
Having power is not having peace. I know, when I am truthful with myself, that when I react to injustice by trying to seize power over it, I cast away peace from my heart, like my dearest treasure into a storming sea.
Lao Tzu, the great Chinese wise man who lived around the time of the Buddha and the prophet Isaiah, said, “If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the heart.”
What good would it be, then, when I see violence in the world, to defend myself and those I like by getting the right power, the right argument, the right strength, only to be just as afraid, just as angry, just as depressed in my heart? Is this hopeless feeling in the face of violence inevitable?
Maybe this is what you meant, Jesus. Blessed means happy. So, if I could actually make peace in this world, without resorting to some kind of violence, I could bring peace to those with anger, fear and despair in their hearts, and I would be very happy. I would see conflict resolve into relationship, and I would hold on to my own peace.
A First Nations elder, who did healing work for others after living a difficult life, before he left every morning, his wife would ask him, “Is your house in order today?” She didn’t mean his home. She meant the house of his heart. Because if he was feeling resentment or shame or discouragement in his heart, it would be better for him to stay home than to go out and spread that darkness. And on those mornings when he had to heal his own heart, he stayed home.
But if peace only comes from within a peaceful heart, where are we? Back at the beginning. Because this month, my heart is troubled. It is fearful and angry and sad to be in the midst of such an unjust world. Where’s that peace going to come from, then?
My peace, says Jesus, I give to you. I don’t give like the world does.
The world gives and takes power. Violence goes one way, then another. Jesus is the only one who takes the fist-pumping, spear-thrusting violence of death into himself, and then gives back quiet light, the peace of the resurrection.
If I am going to be a child of God, if I am going to make peace in this world, I need to be close to the sacrificial love that Jesus showed us perfectly. I need my own anxiety transformed into faith, my depression transformed into hope, and my anger transformed into compassion, so that my heart can reach out to others’. There is no other way for healing to come into this world, except in and through human hearts. There’s no other peace to be found, than the one that refuses to be defined by violence.
St Francis of Assisi always greeted everyone, even the Muslim Sultan, with the words, “May the Lord give you peace.”
Let us pray with him. +
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St Francis pray for us.
St. Kateri pray for us.