This column, Barefoot & Preaching, is also published biweekly in print by The Prairie Messenger.

In pursuit of a bit more peace…

In pursuit of a bit more peace…

Photo Credit: Ken Thorson

There was an easy peace and lots of laughter when the clocks rolled into 2018 totally unnoticed.  About three minutes past midnight, my six-year-old, staying up for the first time, asked, “When do we do the countdown, Mom?”  (Thank you, Jesus, for Netflix and the anytime count.)  I am nine days into January, and about 20 years past making resolutions that I will not keep anyway.  And the word peace has been echoing around me since Christmas.

Several friends and a number of writers I follow have been choosing a word for the year for the last several years.  (You can read more about the trend started by Rachel Olsen.)  I usually resist any trend that is not my idea; my openness to peace must be growth away from self-righteous stubbornness, obviously.

Speaking to his disciples at the last supper, right before the chaos, denials, and pain of the crucifixion in the gospel of John, Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give as the world gives” (John 14:27).  Weeks away from birthing a new baby, I am nesting my way from one room to another in a whirlwind.  I have enough life experience to know that adding a fourth child to our household is unlikely to be described as the epitome of peace.  And still.  It is the longing of my heart.

By chance, I stumbled across a quote attributed to an unknown author this week. It reads: “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.”  A bit of digging suggests it may come from a Hindu text, but I was not able to find a definite source.  Whoever spoke it first has been speaking to my heart, and deepening my appreciation of Jesus’ promised peace.

Oh, to find peace in whatever lies before me, to receive it as God’s gift, to walk into this year in peace.

So much lies before me these days.  Baskets of ordinary and baby laundry.  Meals and snacks for five most days.  Work – paid and unpaid, fun and not.  Big feelings and school concerts and unscheduled ninety minute tantrums from a very persistent toddler.   These I signed up for and planned, even though I am not in charge of how they play out most days.

Then there are the pieces I do not participate in planning.  A big dump of snow when my husband is working a long shift and the shoveling needs to be done.  The tragedies being carried by my people – a house fire, childhood cancer, death of a parent.  A pending court proceeding and trial, eventually sometime.  It is possible to be in these places, expected and not, and be at peace.  I could seek more intentionally to find peace in these places.

When I have tasted this peace, never having feasted on it or had it as regular fare, it has come from beyond me.  I have experienced it as a gift, open enough to receive it – at least for the time it lasts.  It is a feeling, but also more than a feeling.  It is a reality that exists always, with the certainty of the sun’s daily rising, and the frost that comes with winter.  God’s constant peace is the foundation of the world, and I’m running on top of it instead of sinking in.  This year, I want to practice receiving the gift.

And more, I want to walk through the world more peacefully.  Gandhi wrote that “There is no path to peace.  Peace is the path.”  What I am seeking I can be practiced while I am finding and receiving.  My littlest – until the new little arrives – is stretching the limits of her power.  When I went to dress her this morning, she insisted on downstairs, and then after breakfast, and then in the living room.  It is so easy for me to get fed up, to use my size and sense of time to get my own way.  And it was possible to parent her well, to have good boundaries, to insist on kind words, and still get out the door together peacefully.  I want more of that.

The world is full of distractions, and my life is unlikely to slow down.  And it is full of good things worthy of my time.  For now, peace has been echoing in my heart and my world.  It is moving from an echo to an intention, and it doesn’t matter if everyone or anyone else is doing it.  I am going to spend the year practicing peace.

Tracing the Shape of the Dark

My sister had an old dead tree tattooed on her arm. She always meant to have dark clouds filled in behind it, but she didn’t get the chance. I asked her why a dead tree and not a living one; she said it was because she had seen the dark and the dead and gotten through...

An Obituary for my Sister…

With broken hearts, our family shares that Abbie Diana Speir was taken from us at her home in Yellow Grass on April 20, 2017 at the age of 33. Abbie was born at Royal University Hospital on September 29, 1983. She spent her school years in Elrose, loving her friends...

Grace enough for today – and for me

(Photo Credit: Andrea Carol) One of the greatest gifts of living in a cold prairie climate is that it gets cold enough for hoarfrost.  It is the frozen form of dew, an icy proof of the movement of moisture even on such cold mornings.  Breathtakingly beautiful, I would...

A people wandering still

Photo Credit: Katherine Seibert I wandered out into the darkness the other night, wrapped in a thick fog.  I could see about three car lengths in front of me on the asphalt, and then a wall of white, reflecting my headlights back at me.  The brightness designed to...

On Being Barefoot…

Before the burning bush, God asks Moses to take off his sandals, to notice and reverence that he walks on holy land. This holy land continues to burn before me, before us, signaling God’s presence before we arrived rather than because we did. This life we are living was holy before we existed in it. This land and creation we call home is the first book of revelation, God’s love letter to us, bearing witness to the Creator of it all.Our lives and the moments that make them up are the stuff of sainthood, our invitations to participate in Divine life to be swallowed up and fulfilled by God. At the grocery store, in the false solitude of our cars and commutes, in our laundry rooms, and over text messages. My shoes run the risk of “protecting” me from the sacredness of this naked moment. And how I love shoes, and how my sensitive toes resist the prickles of grass and the mess of sand. But barefoot is how my spirituality works, daring to live an embodied and earthy love of Jesus who took on flesh. I’m wandering through this life, yearning to let go of my shoes, to walk reverently and with deep attention to what passes under my feet and to what isn’t yet my path. Barefoot is how I write, how I speak, how I work. Experience shored up against an insatiable thirst for knowledge; direct honesty honed by sensitivity; and vulnerability chained to a commitment to competency. And an unapologetically barefoot tendency to speak it as I feel it, which leads me to…

…and Preaching

I’m a preacher without a pulpit, with words that burn until they are spoken ~ aloud or on a page.

My ministry is one of colliding words and ideas, reaching out to find a connection with God’s amazing people.

The world seems to me to be spilling over with grace and we seem to be people who, all too quickly forget that all of this is pure gift.

When I’m driving, eating, visiting, resting, cleaning, working, playing, and almost everything else, I’m frequently stunned by the pure miracle of what simply is.

It’s not all promised joy and ease, but it is all presenced and remembered by the One who gives it. And I can’t stop talking about it, proclaiming it, preaching this good news that we have not been forgotten or forsaken in any moment of this life.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, my words seem to be given to encourage and inspire. In a world where women and girls are still too-often silenced or secondary, I’m barefoot and preaching because my soul won’t rest any other way. If my words can be a gift to you, then that is a gift for me.

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