I can't imagine a person who can proudly boast, "I have enough peace." Whether we look at our own lives or the state of the world, we are easily aware of areas with an absence of peace. Perhaps this is why the Gospel repetition of Jesus' words is a great consolation. "Peace be with you." The question of world peace is too vast an issue to reduce to a few words.
Personal peace is a little different. If someone names peace as a grace they are seeking in a time of retreat, I think it's important to ask what that peace looks like? How will I know when I have found peace? Just naming the thing I desire is sometimes half the battle. Are there concrete things I can do (or be) to achieve a peaceful state of mind? And, can I actually "achieve" peace? Isn't it so often a state that comes to us, sometimes even without doing anything?
I have a habit, a kind of personal examination of consciousness that never ceases to help me. When I have a niggling sense that there is something out of harmony in my life, I sit quietly for a few minutes and ponder, "where am I experienceing a lack of harmony in my life?" In other words, where am I in desolation?
If I am honest with myself, I can quickly point to an area where I long for peace, where I long for harmony. Just because I name the need, it doesn't automatically bestow peace, but naming the absence is a step in the right direction. At least I know what to pray for.
Psalm 131 expresses another fall-back desire: "I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me." That is a great image of peace - the child so peaceful that very little can disturb it.
Jesus speaks of peace several times in today's Gospel reading: "peace be with you." What sort of peace do we need? Is it the absence of war and violence? Is it freedom from anxiety and fear? Is it the type of calm and indifference that allows us to let go of worry? Are we waiting for surgery or bad news or a friend?
I like to think of myself as pretty sophisticated in a spiritual sense. I think I know who I am and have an awareness of what is happening within my soul. Ah! Yes! I at least have the language to describe what is happening. But my mind can still play games and become obsessed with worries great and small. It seems that there is always something to worry about.
These days I'm trying not to worry about my health and the "mass" that is growing in my head. It doesn't matter how much I tell myself not to worry. I need distractions. And, hopefully, they are healthy distractions: lunch with friends, a film that occupies my mind, a gripping novel or a walk in beautiful spring weather. I try to grow in awareness of the vast number of people who are suffering.
"Peace be with you." I'll say much more in the next few posts - but I connected with my neurosurgeon this afternoon (April 19). I definitely have a brain tumour (I had an earlier one in 2003). The surgeons have a definite plan. I'll give a few more details soon. I'll also post on Facebook. There were options for the surgery. Driving back from the appointment today, I thought, "okay, you have yet another second chance." I intend to do all that I can to not squander it. Peace be with you!