“Salaam,” my neighbour greets me as we meet at the bus stop: “peace.” And I need the reminder.
I need to remember to walk in peace, to keep my centre still and grounded there. Tweet.
I think I prefer this as a greeting to our standard New Zealand, “how are you?” That question always trips me up, throws me into my pain-filled body, entangles me in lies, until I feel alone and unconnected. How can I sink deeper into community when the very way they greet me hurts?
They aren’t really asking, most of the time it’s just “hello” in different packaging. And so I never tell the real story of how I am; I don’t trust that they really want to know. But then it trips me up by becoming a habit, making me give non-answer platitudes when people who do genuinely care about my answer ask.
“How are you?” “Fine.” “How’s your week been?” “Alright.”
Nevermind that I took painkillers just so I could manage to sit through church and have enough attention left to hear the sermon. Nevermind that I’ve taped up my knees and ankles so I’ll be able to stand and sit, stand and sit my way through the service.
But to greet me with peace? That sets my mind back into God’s arms, instead of careening through my painful body, my anxious week. Peace settles me in to hear God in our community, focuses me on the sacred, not the profane, in this repeated mundane.
Peace, peace softens my edges, releases my clenched jaw, allowing it to slip back into place. Peace settles anxieties, stills my mind. To bless someone with peace?! Oh, what a gift.
When we are anchored in peace, the days roll in gently, time rests easy in our hands. To stand in peace is to stand in opposition to the flurry and bustle our world tries to insist we join, it is to resist the voice of the world which says only bustle will be rewarded.
But this peace is not something we can grasp, to lay hands on it is to violently destroy it. Tweet.
Rather, peace must be leaned into, something to be held by, something to trust.
Our world tells us that to produce (which we are told is our purpose) and to make a difference we must act, we must strive. But peace speaks otherwise. Peace invites us to work through passive resistance, through prayer and stillness. Peace invites us to shape our lives differently as a protest and a work of resistance. To be willing to stop and simply be, resting in and at peace, cries out against the tyranny of bustle, speaks out against the powers of the world and aligns us with God.
There is no rush in God’s timing, no pressure to produce and be good, better, best. In Christ, our Prince of Peace, we are enough.
Peace lends us a quiet strength, creates in us a gentleness, and gives us long patience. Peace is a blooming in good time, not a rush to the finishline. It releases us from competitive striving, and invites us to truly flourish as the best of ourselves.
Today, I wish you peace, that it might be your attitude and your ground.
So sink in.
Picture by Harli Marten.