Several years ago, I bought a bumper sticker which said: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” For days, I couldn’t decide where to place it on my car. After much contemplation, I tacked it on a bulletin board instead, believing I needed the reminder more than other drivers did.
“Peace is the way” seems an even more important reminder when events catapult some of us into believing – however momentarily – that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Because one of life’s greatest paradoxes is that no matter how hard we may work to be peaceful, we cannot get to peace if we aren’t peaceful first. As Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh says, we not only need to say: “Let there be peace on earth and let it being with me.” We also need to say, “Let me begin with peace.”
I believe that this is the same wisdom Jesus the Christ, the Wayshower, taught in the 1st century, when he told the disciples, according to the Gospel Writer called John (14:27): “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
For a moment, imagine the disciples’ reaction, which the John Writer doesn’t include. As they witnessed world events, the increasing power of the Roman government, the hypocrisy in the synagogues, the disparities between the haves and have-nots, the disciples likely wondered what Jesus meant. Perhaps they spoke among themselves, as many of us have, wondering how they could avoid feeling troubled or afraid, wondering what kind of peace his peace is and how to employ such advice.
Jesus did not give as the world of his time – or ours – gives. Because Jesus lived as a peace activist, not a peace re-activist. He continually invited his followers to overcome their fears and worries. Rather than react to the world around them, he urged them to consider an alternate way of being and living. The peace which he – and numerous other mystics and spiritual masters – taught is primarily a spiritual peace, one which we experience when we align ourselves with God. This peace prevents the world from robbing us of our serenity and our compassion. This is the peace we feel at the depth of our being, the peace which passes all understanding, even when the news is bleak.
The Truth is: Peace isn’t only about what occurs in the world. Peace is also how we choose to live. And the way isn’t only the path we choose to travel. It’s also how we choose to behave, pray for and treat others – especially when we can’t for a million years understand them, or their actions and choices. When we truly understand this, then perhaps we can feel more faithful on our life’s journey, trusting that as we make peace our way, peace unfolds before us, right where we are.
© 2015 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.