This has been a week of turmoil in our world. With our collective eyes fixed on the violent conflict taking place in Israel, or on the upset in the Ukraine, or the violence and injustice in our very own community, it is easy to get flustered. It is easy to fall in to thinking that this world is spiraling out of control and to be overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness. Will peace ever come in the Middle East? Will the terrorism around the world come to end? If there is a God in the heavens, why doesn’t he finally just bring peace on earth? All of this injustice and pain we continue to witness is unfathomable and exhausting.
For the past few weeks, as the chaos around the world and in my own life have come to a boisterous crescendo, I have been participating in a weekly prayer and meditation group at a faith community in my neighborhood. And for the past few weeks, as each participant in the group brought the burdens and worries from their lives to lay before us, our collective sense of helplessness grew.
What are we to do? How can we make a change? Most of us feel compelled to take action, to work for peace, to see justice done in our communities and around the world, but none of us even know where or how to begin doing that. We begin to feel anxious and overwhelmed as the reality of the complexity and magnitude of the world’s problems begin to set in. Each of us in the prayer group found ourselves heavily burdened but with no idea how to begin working to ease the pain of our lives and world. The discomfort in the group grew as we all began to realize our powerlessness to do anything of substance to change the problems of the world.
It was in this moment of collective hopelessness that one of the group’s leaders spoke up. She said, “I feel like I need to do something. Not moving to action is not an option. But the only thing I know to do is this. And this is enough for me now.” What she was referencing was prayer and meditation. In our moments of weakness and disillusionment, we can find an internal peace that passes all understanding through communing deeply with God. Through taking time to lay our burdens before our benevolent Creator and sitting silently in his presence. The peace and tranquility that are found in the presence of God will fill our souls and we, in turn, become channels of peace to our world.
In the midst of a discouraging and uneasy season of life, each of us has a place of solace that we may retreat to. Every day, we have unfettered access to the presence of God in whom we live and move and have our being. Even in this moment, you are surrounded by and filled with the Spirit of God. He is as close as your very breath. If we take time, even ten minutes, out of our hectic days to lay bare before God’s presence and allow his Divine Peace and Love to expel our fears and captivate our souls, we will become beings that radiate that peace wherever we go.
This week, as you look at the conflict, injustice, and turmoil around the world and in your life and find yourself in a place of hopelessness, take heart. God is with you, waiting for you to allow him to fill you up with peace. Take time to sit silently, with a clear mind, and allow God to overwhelm you with tranquility. For the peace that will change our world first begins within us. Every crisis and injustice in the world that surrounds us is an extension of some crisis within our own souls. Each of us has the power to transform the world and see peace prevail on earth this week. And it begins with bringing ourselves to a place of peace through basking in the presence of God. The peace that we receive will radiate out to the world around us and will bring us to a place of clarity in which we can be helpful agents of the subversive peace of the Kingdom of God.
Peace on earth is possible and it begins within your soul.
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”
-The Prayer of St. Francis