Making Peace Real Right Now

Peace Child
Young, dark-haired child wearing a pink shirt holding up a hand making the peace sign. Image licensed from Envato Elements.

When we pray for peace, are we imagining a world in which Creation could be whole?


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.

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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10 thoughts on “Making Peace Real Right Now”

  1. I really love “stillness and growth, dormancy and renewal.” You have combined states that I don’t generally think of as existing simultaneously, and you’ve also put into words for me what I wish for myself. I’ll try to believe in it and help move it forward for others.

    • Thank you, Nancy. I hope we can all believe that wholeness is possible – for ourselves, our neighbors, and Creation. One moment at time is usually the best we can do. And when one loses hope, the community holds hope for them. We are truly in this peace-making together.

  2. I am holding (and hopefully growing) the hope of peace. LT with our experiences working together consensually and with such inclusive love with all our diversity helps me to believe it can be real in other places in the world.

  3. I was able to spend time in an Indiana State Park this last week. I took a bunch of pictures of the Fall Color. There is one in particular that I like more than others, and I realize now why it is my favorite. It shows branches of bright yellow leaves moving around a tree in a way that suggests a cycle of growth and not the end of the season.

    • Spring and Fall have always lead me to know that there is more than meets the eye. He a small crocus bulb can survive brutal winters and be the first to bloom through yet a snow covered surrounding, how a tiny carrot seed has all the information in it to later become a tasty snack for me. Finally, what APPEARS to die in the winter rises once more.

  4. Like Nancy said, these words stick out for me, too: “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.” How my heart longs for this! And I dream about it–and wonder if such dreams can ever come true?

    But the reality is, this does come true, in ways little and big every day, and how I use and apply my own energy and gifts–when I focus on “shalom” in its richest meaning–is part of what makes growth and renewal happen.

    It’s also the season of Samhain–in the Old Religion of the Celtic peoples, the end of the year as the bounty of the harvest is brought in, and we start the Celtic New Year in a time of darkness. (Seems appropriate, especially for those of us in this part of the Northern Hemisphere.) It’s also the time when “the veil between the worlds is the thinnest”–when our ancestors and those who’ve gone on are closest once again. So Happy New Year–and may we experience, and do what we can to usher in, a season of renewal and deep shalom.

    • Doug, thank you for your thoughtful words. Yes, shalom happens every day. We need to be more intentional in our noticing and our participating.


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