"Calling" by Younsung Kim
Sitting at her desk reading the news, reading social media, listening to the television in the background the emotions of life overwhelmed her. An entire school system was put on lock down because a student brought a home-made project--a clock or a bomb? People joining together for Bible study and prayer welcomed a stranger into their midst who then turned on them and shot them. An armed gunman entered a Planned Parenthood facility and began a shooting rampage. A Christmas party ended in death and destruction when an employee returned armed with his wife and began killing people. Extremist killed hundreds in a French concert venue and others blew themselves and others up with suicide belts.
Some responded with broken hearts binding the wounds of others. Some responded with words of anger. Some spoke of the need for removal of guns while others spoke of the need for more guns. Some condemned all followers of a particular religion/heritage--to destroy them all. Others condemned those who antagonize and whip fear into a frenzy of action/reaction. Arguments raged.
She cried. Tears of grief; tears of anger; tears of fear; tears of compassion found their way down her cheeks. She believed in peace. This was advent. The season when hope, peace, joy, and love insert themselves into our awareness once again. Yet this year . . . this year it seemed hard to find.
Teaching her children, she asked them what peace meant to them. Their answers gave her hope: not fighting . . . quiet . . . silence . . . solitude . . . getting along with others . . . not being a bully. Their innocence in the midst of all the heartbreaking events in the world gave her hope for peace.
They talked about Ubuntu--the potential for being human; to value the good of the community above self-interest; to strive to help people in the spirit of service; to show respect to others; and to be honest and trustworthy. Remembering previous conversations, one of the children said "oh, you mean like when you talk about loving your neighbor?" And she found peace.
Scrolling through social media she saw a picture that drew her. Looking up through feet of water, she saw the ripple of a hand reaching into the water. Looking upward into the light above the water was the bare feet of Jesus, standing on the water, reaching down to offer his hand to the person sinking. On his face was a look of gentle love and invitation to be lifted out of the water . . . the fear . . . the turbulence . . . the uncertainty of life. Then peace filled her soul.
God of Peace, in the midst of the chaos all around us, you reach for us and offer us a peace that only you can provide. We reach long for your peace. We don't know how to bring about your peace, but we open ourselves to you knowing that you are the source. Forgive us when we sink into the turbulent seas of anger, doubt, selfishness and rage. Help us to understand your peace is so much more than the absence of violence. Help us to live with one another in the spirit of Ubuntu. Bring a spirit of Shalom into our daily interactions with others. Give us the wisdom to surrender to the strength of your hand that lifts us from the depths of fear and retribution. Bring our hearts to your peace. So be it. Amen.
If you would like to view the painting "Calling" by Yongsung Kim, it can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/387520742907831885/