Thursday, April 3

by Jordan Chapman

Peace: placidly sitting on a sofa reading a favorite book; ruminating on a park bench on a cool and sunny March afternoon; experiencing focused reflection during a worship service.

I rarely find this idea of peace. In fact, experiences that I think should seem peaceful often stress me out. For example, on Sunday mornings, I treat myself to any combination of the following: reading the Sunday New York Times, attending church, cooking, practicing yoga, or listening to WDAV’s “Biscuits and Bach” radio program. These activities bring me peace, but the thought of choosing which one to do can stress me out. In church, I find myself making a checklist to structure the rest of my day. At yoga, I still cannot push myself to try a headstand without using the wall. Reading the various sections of my favorite newspaper even stresses me out! I get disappointed in myself if I fail to read the entire editorial section cover-to-cover. If nothing immediately strikes my fancy in the international section, I call myself out for being too self-centered. Writing this reflection even makes me feel guilty, as I criticize myself for complaining about such wonderful weekend options. The cycle just doesn’t end. Worse, it repeats almost every Sunday morning.

Recently, though, I have realized that different states of peace exist. Peace does not have to mean sitting in a chair with a vapid smile, absent of thought, worry, or critique. Isaiah 55:12 tells us, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”  I love how this passage communicates that peace comes from experiencing nature. It strikes me as a symbiotic relationship; we respect nature, and in return, mountains, hills, and trees speak to us. Peace, therefore, can be active: joyful, exuberant, and busy. Peace means finding happiness in all of life’s Sunday morning gifts.

To me, peace requires us to approach life with joy. I can handle that. Although I may never find that quiet peace that I often imagine peace encompasses, I can start with joy.

Lift in prayer today
North Carolina Board of Education