Where do you go to find peace?
December 7 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Where do you go to find peace? | Saturday, Dec. 7, 2002

Saturday, Dec. 7, 2002

Where do you go to find peace?

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

The question arose during my morning drive to work, listening to the local public radio station. Host Susan Stamberg introduced a series of interview snippets from people who were asked, "Where do you go to find peace?"

A man in San Diego said he found peace on the water because he was an Aquarius. A woman said she found peace on her morning bike ride past a waterfall. A hectic businessman said he found refuge from cell phones and beepers while sailing.

Stamberg, who lives and works in the crowded bustle of greater Washington, D.C., spoke of how she finds tranquility in an old cemetery's memorial garden, where the bronze sculpture of an enigmatic, meditative figure is surrounded by concrete benches.

Where do you go to find peace?

The question is most appropriate this time of the year. Though Advent traditions vary, many of them focus on the theme of peace during the second week of the season.

There are indeed places that foster a sense of peace: high mountain vistas and the immensity of the ocean proclaim perspective, quiet lakes and old barns quietly bless the passing of time, laughing streams and giggling children bubble with infectious joy.

There are some scenes of grandeur so impressive that I've tried to program them into my memory for instant recall if I need a moment's respite in the midst of a hectic day.

But the pursuit of peace involves more than a journey to or the memory of a physical place, no matter how scenic or tranquil.

Finding true peace involves the obstacle-strewn pathway that leads inside ourselves, past our personal demons, finding a way to look beyond our failures to a core of self that the Bible calls our nephesh, our psuche - our soul.

None of the externals really matter very much if our soul is out of joint.

I have sat by the surf at Waikiki, staring across the gleaming blue bay at the majestic cone of Diamondhead, and felt utterly broken.

I have stood by a rushing waterfall and shed tears to match.

Peace is not a commodity that we can purchase or absorb at the worldwide scenery store. An impressive environment may help set the stage for clearer thinking, but peace must be found within.

The Hebrew word involves much more than an absence of conflict. Shalom denotes a comprehensive sense of wholeness and wellness. In New Testament usage, the Greek word 'eirene took on the same connotation.

That's what we want in this frantic world. Not just the absence of conflict, as welcome as that might be. Not just quiet or rest, but wholeness.

A deep and inner sense of spiritual wholeness endures even when the environment is not conducive to peace. In conflict, in busyness, even in tragedy, there can be an inner, sustaining peace.

The ultimate source of that peace, the Bible tells us, is the love of God. And, the ultimate expression of God's love is Jesus Christ, whose sacrificial gift of Himself offers forgiveness to heal the broken image of God in us, and a persistent presence that sustains our human frailty with divine strength.

That is why, I believe, the story of Jesus' birth is so awash in images of peace. When the prophets spoke of the Messiah's arrival, they often spoke of peace. When angels appeared to Mary and Joseph and the shepherds, they brought wishes for peace. When early Christians like Paul tried to explain what it was like to live in fellowship with Christ, they frequently relied on images of peace.

Isaiah 26:3 is often cited during the Advent season. In the familiar words of the King James translation, we remember it as "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee."

A more literal translation might be "The one whose mind leans on you, you will keep in peace, in peace because he trusts in you."

In this hurried, worried, commercialized season, where do you put your trust?

Where do you go to find peace?

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12/7/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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