Peace In the Midst of Others

This is part 8 of a series of posts: onetwothreefour, five, six, seven.)

Trying to find a peaceful song
To sing when everything goes wrong
Till the peaceful valley calls me home
-“Peaceful Valley,” Ryan Adams

I want a peaceful soul.

But there are others who surround me. I am not alone. And they make it hard to have peace. Not only because of their actions against me. Though some are vengeful. And hurt. Though some do not know the way of peace. Nor care. Wherever I go, they are there. But they are not really the problem so much as my own self in dealing with them.

I know what can be in me in relation to them.

And I am prone to take up arms. Arms like jealousy and envy and self-absorption. Like a child I am absorbed with my own cares and expect the same of them. When they are not absorbed with my cares, violence. I can wield the weapon of selfishness. And flippancy with skill. Arrogance and pride are part of my arsenal.

I am without compassion. So peace is really impossible. Their problems are in the way. I wonder how it is I alone understand the way things should be. So I become angry. My mood is fixed by how things are in my own stratosphere. I grieve for those who grieve if by those you mean me.

How is peace with others possible if those others are pawns to move and problems to be moved out of the way?

They pull in front of me in traffic. They mess up my order. Are loud in the library. They are dirty. Ugly. Uninformed. These others do not like what I like. And dislike what I like. They are loud and quiet. They ask me to feed them and play with them. They ask me to help them. They have problems. Issues. They send me emails wanting me to fix problems.

Worse. I invest in the idea that the removal of the things they do which I do not like will give me the peace I want. Deep down I know this is not the peace I need. In fact this is the peace of a mirage.

What I need is a peace in the midst. I need a peace that will stand between me and the others – a peace taking away my habitual desire for weapons to use against them.

The Already/Not Yet of the Soul At Peace With God

White Tree by Makoto Fujimura

(This is part six of a series of posts: onetwothreefour, five.)

I want a peaceful soul.

And in the already/not yet of the world I find myself in, this is no mean feat. When Jesus was facing a cross-faced dawn and confessed, “Now my soul is troubled” it was the cathartic echo of every soul on both sides of golgotha. I think he mumbled it.

The forces in this existence which scheme to construct a life without a peaceful soul are legion. And the spheres where the battle is fought are four. For I need a soul at peace with God, with others, with my own self and with the Universe.

With.

Already, I enjoy the peace that passes all understanding in a sense. The wrath of God has been turned back. The Prince of Peace, himself has turned it away and taken it on himself. It is a real peace. God is no longer angry with me. Peace. And despite the systematic theologies we have written and now fillour libraries, it is beyond understanding. I don’t get it.  All the horror for the sake of me and the beauty resulting. Is it Ok to be so blown away by not fathoming this peace we throw our hands up in confusion? Surely.

But I do not enjoy it fully. If I did I would not want a peaceful soul. It would be fully realized. This is part of the ‘not yet.’ Because I still have this frame which is so prone to sin, I still strive against the God who has already declared ‘peace’ by meeting all the demands himself.

Imagine that.

A soldier who once fought tooth and nail, war upon war, against the king is now an enemy no more. The King has met all his own demands of punishment for the insurrection. The soldier owes nothing. Peace is had. Real peace, not imagined peace that is defined by space, time and mass. This peace breaks those bonds completely. But the soldier forgets and strives against the King. In fits of rage he unsheathes his sword. In lust he grabs what is not his. And in impatience he demands.

But it’s peace he wants most. He wants to experience what is really his. He feels this peace he has with the king is a inheritance in foreign land he cannot yet get to. But he hears of its beauty and pastoral scenes. He gets word of the yield of fruit from the fields he will one day behold. Face to face.

The longing of his very soul.

The Path of Peace Is A Violent One

(This is part five of a series of posts: onetwothree, four.)

I want a peaceful soul.

And after thinking about it, maybe peace does not look like anything particular. Or better, it looks like all things reconciled. No friction between any two things. And maybe this is why Jesus is the picture of peace itself. One so at peace with himself, with God, with the Universe itself and with people – it would make sense that he would be peace personified. He created us. He is the one we rebelled against from tree to tree. He is the One in Whom we gain peace with God, the Father. No wonder he is called our Peace, the Prince of Peace and consistently bids us peace.

So, as I watch this Jesus – this man of peace, I see the need for peace in four particular spheres of my life that spill out onto the banks of everywhere else.

Peace with God.


Peace with others.


Peace with the Universe.


Peace with myself.

None will come without a fight. In fact, I assume the path to a peaceful soul is a violent one. There are no frictionless relations. The Universe has yet to bend to my will fully though I fancy a center place. And I know full well my own battle-ready self. No, the shores of a soul at peace must know the waves will crash again and again.

Is there a bulwark hardy enough to withstand the relentless pulsing sea of war on my soul? Yes. And it wields it’s strength in a story. Not a formula. But a story, where I come in late but am found in nonetheless.

Nonetheless. And knowing this is the beginning of the very peace I am after.