Friday, March 28

by Tyler Askew
"Drops of Moisture, Agnus Dei, and Tiny Lights"

This world that we have the privilege to dwell in is chaotic, frightening, beautiful and wonderful. It is utterly impossible to make it through this life without being overwhelmed by it at least once; thus we seek peace and solace wherever and in whomever we can. Many of us find this peace through loved ones, or by busying ourselves in repetitive tasks that we particularly like. Some people lose themselves in distractions and celebrate life’s grandeur in order to forget about their hardships and doubts. Many more of us look to our one God, who goes by many names and is worshiped by many different faiths, to find the peace we desire. I count myself among those who find peace with God, but I do not look for him in all of the usual places. I will not deny that I often feel a comforting sense of stillness and gentleness within the walls of a church, but to me God and the peace he offers can easily be found in three things: light, sound, and water.

I mentioned earlier that I often feel at peace within a church. This is due in no small part to the light found within one. I have found that they tend to possess no small quantity of windows, stained glass or otherwise. It is the sight of sunlight streaming in through these windows that I find particularly calming about churches. I’ve always enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the beauty that it lends to the sky during the periods when day and night transition, but something about the presence of its light within a church just seems right to me. I can easily lose myself in watching this light, and in these moments I find myself at peace.

But the light does not have to come from something as magnificent as the sun to bring me peace. I have always had a special fondness for Christmas Eve worship services,  especially for the lighting of candles. The sanctuary lights go out one by one, and then, amidst the all-encompassing blackness, a tiny candle is lit. It is not the light of the candle by itself, but the way in which that tiny flame is passed on by each individual in the room until everyone holds a tiny light in his hand and heart. The sharing of this tiny but precious light makes it so easy for me to grasp the concept of how much God loves us that I am often moved to tears by this spectacle.

From light, I move now to sound. In this day and age, ear buds, headphones and iPods are a common sight among the youth of our world, and I am no exception. These devices serve two functions at once: blocking out the sound of our enormous world, allowing us to retreat within ourselves and seek self-isolation if the presence of the masses becomes too overwhelming; and streaming in the sounds that we want to hear – music, or perhaps even a book read aloud, all chosen by the listener alone. In this way one can seek peace within himself by blocking the world out and getting lost in the familiar and comforting patterns of repetition and melody, taking a much-needed break from the larger chaotic world until one is ready to face it again.

I will not deny that I have more than a few rock and roll tracks on my own device, but I often prefer to listen to something more subtle and gentle, such as symphonic concertos and jazz albums. However, I have found that there are plenty of sounds beyond the confines of my headphones that bring me closer to the peace of God: the sound of an entire church congregation with voices lifted in songs of praise and faith, hundreds of different voices, each with troubles and opinions of their own, all united to sing the same song. The significance of this is not lost on me, and I take comfort in the knowledge that however different we may be from each other as people, we still find that we have enough in common to sing together.

Finally, I bring the aspects of light and sound together along with the third way in which I find peace: water. I love to swim and have always done so with a certain single-mindedness and fervor. I always make sure to take a pair of goggles with me whenever I go to swim in a pool. I do this for a number of reasons. The most obvious is to keep chlorine out of my eyes and allow me to see which way I am going when I swim underwater. But my main reason becomes clear whenever I swim into the deeper end of a pool. There I will dive down and just look. Suspended several feet from the bottom of the pool, with soft blue light streaming all around me in a space where all sound is muffled, I feel as if I have suddenly gained the power to fly. And so that is what I do: I fly through the water, weightless and free to move in any direction I desire. This feeling of freedom and being in a space that is not governed by the same laws as the space above the surface makes me feel set apart from the daily routines of life, and in this separation I feel further away from my burdens and closer to understanding the majesty of the God who created this wondrous space called “underwater.”

The peace of Christ is all around us every day. Some find it more easily than others do, but it is there for us if we take a moment to look.

Lift in prayer today
Florence Crittenton Services, helping at-risk girls,
especially those who are pregnant