Where do we find peace in the midst of this heart-wrenching, chaotic, distressing, wildly unpeaceful world? How can we create—how can we embody—peace?
It should go without saying that I don’t have any clear answers. I do know this: that wondering about these questions together is one of the most important things we can do as a church right now.
In light of what’s happening in the world around us—in our neighborhoods and around the globe—who is God calling us to be? In this time where the government is creating special detention facilities for babies and toddlers, in this time when we’re worried about trade wars and nuclear wars, who is God calling us to be?
This is what we’re diving into this summer at our riverside Faith Conversations on Thursday evenings: how to be people of peace in this place and in this time. We’re talking about the big questions, and also talking about small, daily ways of tending to our own selves and our own families and our own spirits. All of this is part of what God is calling us to do.
When I was in seminary, I took a class called Trauma and Theology, and our professor invited another trauma theologian, Wendy Farley, to speak to our class. Dr. Farley studied the ways that the trauma in the world around us influences our theology, and explored how our theology must change in light of what we see and know and experience. Her sister is a pastor who also ministers to people who are incarcerated, and at the time when Dr. Farley was speaking to our class, her sister was preparing to accompany someone as he was executed by the state. “How do we stay present to something this horrible? How do we allow ourselves to witness horrors like this without it breaking us?” Dr. Farley posed the question to the class, and then she answered it for us. “It’s about calibration. The extent to which we open ourselves up to the terror in the world around us, the extent to which we open ourselves up to sadness and brokenness—we need to open ourselves also to the joy and the beauty in the world. Not because that beauty will “cancel out” the pain and the suffering—but because we can only bear the full depths of awfulness if we’re also open to the full depths of joy. The deeper we go, the more we’ll realize that beauty, and love, and goodness, and peace, are actually deeper and more lasting than the brokenness of the world.
That’s why we sit by the riverside to have these talks in the summer. Because it’s beautiful. Because we need to spend an hour each week seeing turtles sunning themselves on logs and seeing baby geese paddle around in the shallows. Because sometimes a heron flies by. Because God made this world and called it good.
It’s also part of why it’s so important—in the summer and year round—to do things like go to the beach, travel across the world to see our family, stay out late on the deck grilling food for people we love. We need to keep our hearts wide open to the beauty in the world, because goodness knows we’re keeping our hearts open to the horror and the pain in the world.
With you in the Love,
Join us here every Thursday evening from 6-7pm for Faith Conversations on “Being People of Peace.” Bring your own chair, if you have one! Contact the office for more details at 781-326-5050 or email@example.com