Advent Contemplations – Is Peace Possible?

Is it safe tpeaceo say that the most fervent wish in most (if not all) of our hearts is “world peace”? I know that when my birthday cake sits in front of me and I have to make a wish, my first thought is to wish for peace in the world…but sometimes, perhaps somewhat subconsciously, I brush that one aside very quickly to think of one that’s more likely to come true.

World peace seems like such an impossibility. In fact, if I think about it too much, I actually begin to teeter on the dangerous precipice of futility. And futility is the last place I ever want to visit or linger too long again. There was a dark time in my life when I succumbed to futility and despair, and almost didn’t make it out alive. It’s a very slippery slope into a very dangerous quicksand that can quickly render one powerless to escape. So it’s not a place I can afford to go ever again. So if I want to make sure I never go back there again, I have to constantly move forward in the opposite direction. For me, the opposite direction to futility is hope…and the polar opposite to that dark place of despair is peace.

What is peace? We bandy around that word, wishing for it, searching for it, declaring it to be elusive and perhaps even an unattainable myth. Up until a few years ago, it was an abstract concept even to me, despite my profound spiritual relationship with God, which you would think might have given me a free pass to peace. I would have thought so too, but inner peace has always proven to be a bafflingly mysterious concept which I had never been able to fully understand how to find, or even search for, much less actually experience.

Then it happened, in the most unexpected moment and place. We were on one of those hectic organized tours of Italy…cramming as much as possible into 8 short days. One of the early stops was Assisi. We had just finished doing all of Rome in one long, whirlwind day the day before, so when we got to Assisi, everything unfortunately merged together into one big blur. To this day, I’m still not sure exactly where we went or what we saw. But there was a moment, when we were given some free time to go down the stairs to visit the tomb of St Francis of Assisi. The line-up was long, and the people swirled around me in a dizzying haze of noisy motion, but I hung in there, and finally it was my turn to enter into the little chapel. My feet were sore, so I sat down and forced myself to focus on being there.

Without any other intentional action on my part, it suddenly was there. Peace. For the first time in my entire life (I would have been in my early 50’s then), I felt it, Peace, I felt Peace. It was not just a quietness, because it was not quiet in there with all of those people milling around. It was not a physical sense of resting because the stool was too hard and uncomfortable to feel like my body was at rest. It was something totally foreign to me, something – well, to be totally cliché, it was something that defied all understanding. It just was. It was a sense of utter calmness, a serenity that made every nook and cranny of my soul stand still. It was a solid sense that “all is well” and a knowing right through to the core of my being that it always was well, and always would be well. Nothing else existed, though I was still in the midst of it all. All of the usual inner chatter that I’ve lived with my entire life just stopped. My heart stopped its frantic “travel-pulse” of the past few hours and days. And in that moment, I touched something deep inside of me that I didn’t even know could be found there, much less touched and lived. It was Peace.

I stayed in that place and in that serenity for as long as time allowed, then reluctantly stood up to go and find my group to continue the trek. But wondrously, I was able to carry that sense of peace with me. Later in the trip, when the pace again became hectic, I remember sitting in the bus wishing I could go back to Assisi to feel that peace again. And I heard that little whisper deep inside of me say “You don’t need to go back to Assisi to find Peace…it is always there inside of you whenever you need it.” It was another one of those astounding “aha” moments. So quiet, so unobtrusive, so matter-of-fact, and yet so powerful, in part because I had finally actually experienced what Peace felt like, so now it became something tangible that I could hang that word “Peace” onto…and I knew without a doubt now that it WAS within my reach.

Since that moment in Assisi, I continue to strive to make that peace easier to reach, easier to sustain, and more the rule than the exception for my life. It has been difficult to silence the chatter that continuously clutters my mind. And it has been difficult to learn how to not let the newspaper headlines and evening news steal me away from that inner serenity, but slowly and surely, by choosing to live in hope and in constant gratitude, that deep, soul-calming Peace has been emerging from the dusty depths into the light of my every day.

So I know that Peace is pospeace in the worldsible. Seemingly elusive, seemingly impossible in the face of world tragedies unfolding on our television and computer screens. But here’s the thing about peace. It’s not some impossible-to-reach place or elusive mindset that depends on circumstances that are seemingly beyond our control. It’s right here, always has been, right here right now, inside of me. It really does all begin with me. Within my own heart. Once I’ve experienced peace there, it becomes possible – and infinitely desirable – to live from within that inner serenity; from there, when we live steeped in  Peace, Peace then ripples through us and out into the world at large, via our activities and encounters throughout the day.

Again, we might be tempted to falter in the face of the seemingly impossible up-hill climb to reach a collective state of peace. But please, resist futility – once we choose hope, everything is possible! We have to start somewhere. In our own hearts, then in our own homes, then in our own neighbourhoods, then in our own cities and towns…someday soon somehow, it will all swirl together and become world peace.

Like the light of one single candle, Peace also makes a difference even in tiny doses. Let there be Peace, on earth, in me, in you, in my home, in your home…let peace begin right here right now, in me, in you.

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2012. All rights reserved.

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About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
This entry was posted in Advent, Christmas, coping, courage, empowerment, faith, hope, inspiration, meaning, mental health, new horizons, Peace, perseverance, positive, purpose, spiritual. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Advent Contemplations – Is Peace Possible?

  1. Great post, Sharon! I have found that peace, like happiness, is elusive as long as we are searching for it. It is in those moments of not actively seeking that we find both.


    • Sharon says:

      So true, Ruth! For me, stilling the chatter in my head, and especially the noisy fears that drowned out everything else, was the biggest challenge to being open enough to experiencing peace (and happiness). I guess that getting rid of the fearful chatter cleared out enough space in the attic for hope and peace to finally be heard, LOL.


  2. Angelika says:

    If every person on this earth would only make one other single person happy, then this entire world would be happy.


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