As Morgan and I were walking through the woods yesterday, it occurred to me that trees and falling leaves, the smell of pine, the feel of the wind, and the autumn colors reflected in the ponds are peace in and of themselves.
The woods know nothing of war and human cycles of violence. They only know birth, life, death, and rebirth. The woods are whole, complete. This is peace.
My sense of peace as the woods instilled was shattered late last night when I learned of another mass shooting. This one in Lewiston, ME. The U.S. insistence on gun access means that whole communities continue to be broken, fragmented by bullets. There is no wholeness where mass shootings seem always possible.
My rabbi friend, Amy, reminds me that “shalom” which is often translated as “peace” means “wholeness” or “completeness.” When we pray for peace, are we imagining a world in which Creation could be whole? Are we embodying that which will bring Creation to completeness?
I know these are big questions to ponder. Yet, they are essential in a world where war and violence disrupt life and shatter communities.
I was lucky enough to carry a sense of peace away from the woods yesterday afternoon. I was able to do that in part because my imagination took over. I envisioned a world where stillness and growth, dormancy and renewal were everyday expectations for everyone – a world in which every living thing was recognized as sacred and treated accordingly.
It was a sacred moment for me, one that stayed with me until I learned of the mass shooting in Maine. Now I find myself praying for peace in the sense of shalom and for the courage to be a part of bringing it about.
Where do you find peace, a peace that gives you a sense of wholeness and invites you to envision a world in which all of life is valued? How are your actions influenced by those moments/places of peace?
If we, together with people of all faiths, are not able to imagine a world that is whole and free from violence, who will? If we are not able to let that envisioning “guide our feet in the way of peace” (Lk. 1:79), then who can?
May all of our prayers for shalom lead us to being a people whose actions bring about healing and wholeness for the whole of Creation.
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