To practice Easter Peace, I had to reconcile this week with all the imaginations of what I assume peace to be, too often. Forever still waters, by which I permanently abide. A helicopter that comes to lift us out of the valley and deliver us safely to the other side. A table with no enemies, but only friends.
Yet, this week I have wrestled with this Easter practice: In the valley, to let peace be.
Jesus sets the disciples on their feet and sends them forth with a task: go to the miry bog where the panicked live and help them see the way out they have failed to see in their fright. Guide the thirsty to the stream in the midst of the valley that will satisfy them before they continue on the path. Seek out the ones you avoid in order to trust the resurrecting practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. Let peace be that which transforms the valley.
In a consumer society, I consider how tempting it is to believe that peace is that which is to be secured, as if …
….Peace be retreat from the valley – abandoning fellow pilgrims who remain, choosing to forget, ignore, or deny the valley, erasing its existence so as to ease the mind.
….Peace be safety secured by mythical means – soothing ourselves with the illusion of protection, believing the lie that immortality can be bought, agreeing that all the danger comes from those who have found themselves in the valley.
….Peace be purity created by sameness – identifying difference as the danger, idealizing uniformity, pursuing falsehoods to eradicate fear.
We cannot have Easter Peace, as if it is to be seized.
We cannot make Easter Peace, as if it can be produced.
Easter Peace is.
It is the being of Easter Peace that is the gift.
It is the location in the valley that makes it Easter Peace.
Easter Peace transforms the understanding of our life’s trajectory.
Easter Peace transforms the streams, the valley, and the table.
Easter Peace transforms our living by denying the finality of our dying.
“Dear relatives and friends, when my last breath
Grows large and free in air, don’t call it death –
A word to enrich the undertaker and inspire
His surly art of imitating life; conspire
Against him. Say that my body cannot now
Be improved upon; it has no fault to show
To the sly cosmetician. Say that my flesh
Has a perfection in compliance with the grass
Truer than any it could have striven for.
You will recognize the earth in me, as before
I wished to know it in myself: my earth
That has been my care and faithful charge from birth,
And toward which all my sorrows were surely bound,
And all my hopes. Say that I have found
A good solution, and am on my way
To the roots. And say I have left my native clay
At last, to be a traveler; that too will be so.
Traveler to where? Say you don’t know.
But do not let your ignorance
Of my spirit’s whereabouts dismay
You, or overwhelm your thoughts.
Be careful not to say
Anything too final. Whatever
Is unsure is possible, and life is bigger
Than flesh. Beyond reach of thought
Let imagination figure
Your hope. That will be generous
To me and to yourselves. Why settle
For some know-it-all’s despair
When the dead may dance to the fiddle
Hereafter, for all anybody knows?”
~ “Testament” by Wendell Berry
In the valley, the dead dance to the fiddle.
In the valley, the pilgrims can’t help but sing.
In the valley, peace be.
For Easter truths that I cannot comprehend (as if they be rational conclusions), I would never come to on my own (as I find myself lusting for the helicopter route out), but which are saving my life (every hour, every day), I pause and give thanks.