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The Peace "zone" is ever possible

I had the best day, and it's only 4pm! I find myself with an unexpectedly free afternoon and am wondering how to "spend" this gift of time. While I have many more Mexico stories to share, I want to share the joy of this day with you, while reminding myself that peace can be ever present. It is palpable to me today through intentional mindfulness and prayer. It's easy to be mindful and prayerful on a peace retreat — that's my sole purpose on retreat, and I can order my day around it, starting with meditation and prayer, then walking and speaking through my day with a wide open heart. It's harder to keep that peace at home, even more, to nurture and share it, so I'm especially grateful today that I'm "in the zone."

Two things helped me get and stay in the "zone" today — sharing about CryPeace and my recent interview with Jean Vanier at church, and being an official greeter at church. To prepare for both roles, I rose early in the morning, arriving leisurely to church, and was prayerfully open to God's direction in my conversations. As God always does, when I sought to bless others, they much more richly blessed me.

 

As God always does, when I sought to bless others, they much more richly blessed me.

 

The "zone" is not far away or difficult to access — it's ever present, awaiting for us to stop and become aware of it, then dwell in it. As Moses encouraged the Israelites, God's precepts are very close, in our mouths and in our hearts, so that we can follow them (The Bible, Deuteronomy 30:11-14). Thomas Merton speaks of the virginal time and the virginal place that are gateways to eternity and heaven, namely here and now, if only we open ourselves wide to them (and only if we open ourselves wide to them; Thomas Merton, The Book of Hours, pp. 27-36). The "zone" is accessible, but but it takes a leap of faith, like an immersion into a pool, to experience it. I've been so deeply immersed in God's presence before that I never wanted to leave (Advent Peace). Today I was in the "zone" as I went through my day, in a delightful union.

Before church, while the front door was still locked, I smiled at the guest preacher (who was immersed in conversation), then sat down beside Andreas. I love how openly Andreas shares his heart! He has asked me how I was before and prayed for me; today I asked him how he was and prayed for him. As we talked, he said this more eloquently than I've ever heard it said: "Let go and love God." I love that! Usually we say "Let go and let God," but "Let go and love God" is much more powerful! When we are struggling to let go, it's hard to trust God, let alone love God. We may not hear God's answer, or we may not like the answer we're hearing, but when it's especially hard to let go, we know we must. If we can love God at that moment, we'll remember that we are loved by God, which makes what we are holding onto much less important, because we feel safe, loved, and have our heart on the right thing: God.

 

"Let go and love God." — Andreas Prinz

 

After church, I had a wonderful conversation with a longtime member and someone I'd just met for the first time. Her daughter was pulling her away with all her strength, but we begged her patience for two minutes, then enjoyed a much longer conversation about the intersection of our lives' passions, filmmaking and storytelling. We both find it difficult it to ask for help, including resources to help make our dreams come true. Yet we're both stepping out in faith towards our dreams (and she's a bit further down the road). As she told us of her next project, and the divine connection it had to the Biblical Deborah, I shared the story of Biblical Rahab, and our hair stood on end. Clearly God is speaking, and I look forward to learning more about it!

Then I began speaking with a man who is taking a courageous leap of faith! He's devoting the next year of his life to pursuing God wholeheartedly for healing and direction. Wow! I have dreamed of a twelve month peace tour, to learn of different societies' peace wisdom, challenges, and collect a lot more stories, but I haven't even launched the Kickstarter page that might begin to collect the resources and connections. He's starting his year of pursuit this Tuesday. As the pastor asked us to move our conversation outside so he could lock the door, I looked around. Just six of us were left. The friend I planned to spend the afternoon with was already gone; so was the friend I hoped to have dinner with. Intending to quickly drop the adventurer off at the subway then call my friend, we sat in the car for another hour talking! I learned that whatever challenges a person has in their life, look compassionately for the underlying reason. Assume there is one and that they are doing the best that they can. The adventurer was sharing how he wanted to soften some people's abruptness because it had a potentially lifesaving or life-threatening impact on vulnerable people. I was impressed by the insight and maturity of his approach, although he shared that when he experienced them, some of the incidents had made him shake with rage. But now God was leading him to a deeper, more holistic path. Even after our third goodbye and he got out of the car, I was horrified by the final heartbreak that he revealed. Pain begets pain, and he was struggling to give someone who had inflicted deep pain on him the compassion he needs when he passes the pain on to someone else. Suddenly the personal conflict that I thought was big diminished. The sermon, which was about God's infinite grace and love towards us as God makes himself truly vulnerable to our rejection of God, reinforced this. God has been calling longingly and lovingly after humans, "Where are you?," for time immemorial. However when we can't feel God's presence, our question, "Where are you, God?," is more accusatory, even though it is us who are the ones straying. God cannot stray from us, because God promised that God wouldn't (The Bible, 2 Timothy 2:13).

 

Pain begets pain. When someone inflicts pain on you, try to give them the compassion you need when you pass your pain on to someone else.

 

No, I didn't expect to be writing a peace story today. I expected to be living one at church, at lunch, gardening, at dinner, and in good conversations. I certainly have been living a peace story today, and who knows, there still may be gardening! What a lovely reminder that peace is the ever-present possibility of living more intentionally and prayerfully, no matter where I am. May this wisdom stay with me (and be renewed in you) throughout the week.

 

Peace is the ever-present possibility of living more intentionally and prayerfully, no matter where you are.

 

 

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