It is Advent and we are waiting. On Monday we waited through surgery. On Tuesday we waited because that's just how these things go. On Wednesday we waited on each other. On Thursday, Friday, well you get it. But this isn't the kind of waiting anyone wants to be doing - ever, and certainly not during Advent. We prefer to wait for the fun, exciting, beautiful parts. We want to enjoy the lights and the craft shows. Well I want to enjoy those; Greg endures craft shows and shopping because he loves me. Despite suggestions that he remain home, he soldiers on every year trying to wait patiently and appear interested.
During the waiting of last week, I wrestled with knowing I was already committed to writing about Peace this week. When you commit for five years in a row to observe the Advent themes in your blog, you can't toss it out the window because your nice little world is shaken and shifted. I woke up early one morning last week gnawing on that problem. It was one thing to cling to hope in howling winds. Most could identify with that metaphor. How was I going to write about Peace when the rats of fear, uncertainty, and anger were chewing on my soul? I almost did not dare to try to pass the peace to you because it seemed presumptuous.
But, presumptions must be set aside because my responsibility is to write, to stare down those nasty little rats, and in doing so hopefully create something worthy, true, and encouraging if only for my own spirit. I started with the meaning of peace. You can declare peace as an order to others to be quiet, or you can broker peace through treaties to end conflict. You can retreat to peaceful places to enjoy silence or serenity. All the English definitions of peace left me empty. They seemed impossible to achieve in this situation. Sitting in a quiet room was not going to make me feel better. Brokering a peace deal between my own thoughts and feelings was unrealistic. I needed something practical and tangible that would lead me step by step to peace.
A search for other interpretations and perspectives on peace led me to the Hebrew word shalom; it's use and definitions are broader. Shalom is a salutation. It is hello, goodbye, and peace. It means to be whole and sound. Shalom is something you can pronounce as a blessing on one another. In essence it is "peace to you". Chadi Benjaminson writes about bringing shalom to others as a means of achieving shalom ourselves (www.chabad.org). When you move from trying to obtain peace yourself to bringing shalom to others, you make a significant mental shift.
It is a shift that demands we look outward instead of inward, and when we are willing to make that change we begin to experience a little more peace. With every opportunity you claim to bring shalom to someone else the rats scurry back to their dark corners. Despite the onslaught of pain, sadness, or uncertainty we may be swirling in we each have the ability to deliver a taste of wholeness and peace to someone else. We have those opportunities multiple times every day with those we know and love, and with strangers we encounter briefly.
As we face another week of Advent waiting, coloured by the events of Doug's journey and all the other pain points you may wrestle with quietly and anonymously, remember to bring shalom to others. Make peace your hello, your good-bye, and your in-between. Increase and multiply the peace in your life and in those around you through your words and actions this week.