Friday, March 21, 2014

Musings on.. peace

Perhaps you can relate to this. Your baby's been grizzly all day, now it's way past their bedtime, they're overtired, you're under-slept, and after yet another 20 minutes of 'shushing' you've carefully placed them back in their cot, crept out of their room and now you're listening at the door, hardly daring to breathe until you're sure that this time they really have gone to sleep.. A moment's silence, then another, and then.. Peace. You can finally breathe out, collapse in a chair, have a cup of tea..

Do you have to go somewhere to find peace? Maybe peace and quiet? Perhaps climbing a mountain, or finding a remote wilderness.. even just shutting the bathroom door and soaking in a bath?

Or is peace something you're waiting for? When the kids have (finally) gone to sleep, when you can get home from a busy day, or when a difficult situation is over?

Is peace something you encounter on your own - on a cloistered retreat, shut off from the world? Or is it something that occurs on a bigger scale - like countries making declarations of peace after war?

Perhaps peace is something you have to make - making peace with a situation, a person, God?

I've been musing on the subject of peace this week, and when I think of the questions above it seems to me peace is needed in many ways in our lives, communities and world.  In some ways, I think that peace is like carbon. If you can remember chemistry at school (one of my weaker subjects I have to be honest, although having a chemistry teacher called Mr Work probably didn't help!), carbon famously has three forms - allotropes - ranging from diamond: crystal clear and the toughest material on earth; to graphite - black, opaque and soft enough to enable us to use it in our pencils. Peace also takes different forms.

I'm sure that we're all longing for peace in many areas of our lives and in the world we live in. Not a day seems to go by when the news headlines aren't dominated by conflict - on a domestic, political or international scale. We desperately need peace in our relationships, within our families, in our workplaces, in our hearts.

But how do we find it? Is peace a destination, a place we go to, or is it something we have to make? Is it an exterior thing or an interior thing? Personal or corporate?

Maybe it's all of these things at different times - maybe these are all allotropes, and maybe we need all of them.

I know that we have have many demands on our lives, and that life can feel relentless at times - the treadmill of the everyday, the rat race, can grind us down and leave us agitated, depressed, even ill. Perhaps we feel like peace is something we can only find occasionally - perfect peace like a diamond that's precious because it's so rare.

But I wonder whether if we're only looking for diamonds, for perfect peace, we can miss the other more everyday forms of carbon-peace that are all around us. Like carbon, I think peace is there to be found in our daily lives - in fact especially there.

Often on my lunch break I will seek some reflective time in the cathedral near my office. It's usually quiet, muffling the sounds of the busy city outside, and I find it helpful to be able to gather my thoughts and escape the tyranny of my inbox for a few moments. Often I pray, and herein I think lies the secret to discovering this 'everyday' peace - not necessarily in a cathedral - but in the deep knowledge that you are unconditionally loved and accepted by God. Diamond peace, perfect peace may be hard to find, but God wants us to receive his everyday peace in the midst of our turbulent lives.

Amorphous carbon is a third allotrope of carbon, aside from graphite and diamond, and as the name suggests, it is the least 'formed' of the three. In fact, this form of carbon creates more compounds than any other element, and carbon compounds in general form the basis of all known life on our planet. In a similar way, maybe we can allow peace to become a part of all the different elements of our lives.

This ability of carbon to form amazing new materials leads me to a different slant on 'blessed are the peacemakers' - what are we making with the peace available to us? Some carbon compounds are known for their lightness - carbon fibre for example - and in a sense I wonder whether prayerfully allowing 'peace compounds' to form in our lives can bring a lightness to situations and circumstances which normally weigh us down.

I've probably raised more questions than answers in this post, but also think that it's good for our health to be considering how we can engage with God's peace in the midst of our daily grind.

So I'll end with a simple blessing: 

Peace be with you.

(This post was written as part of the Blog Buddies group. Here are some other thoughts on the subject by WendyIf you want to join our blog buddies group contact

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