“I’ve got Peace like a river in my soul.”
But there is the saying that “you never step in the same river twice.”
Which leads me to the question: “How do I know the Peace which is like a river in my soul if I step out of the river of peace and then step back in? Is this a new “Peace” in which I am wading? How do I know the new river/Peace from the old river/Peace?
We enjoyed many days of running up the icy-cold rivers in North Georgia in order to reach the falls, where we always contemplated climbing. If you have ever run across those smooth-stone crystal clear river beds, hopped from boulder to boulder, or jumped onto the bank to slip and slide across almost slimy leaves, you will understand the fun. It was never about climbing the falls; it was always about challenging the river. For that close to the falls, which were a second or third or fourth or more river-origin, we felt as if we had reached the mouth of the river. And then, to shed a layer or two and sit in the cool mist with our hot bodies, sweating from the effort of running and wading, slipping and sliding, we found a season of peace…the quiet punctuated by the beating of our hearts. There was never much talk; I believe we both, or all (however many were in our river-running group) were listening to ourselves. Maybe we were listening to a voice familiar to us, alone, or to some still, small Voice, or simply to our body rhythms.
It is perched at the foot of the falls — in my memories — that I realize that the Peace which is the river and which is “like a river” in my soul has practically nothing to do with me…that is, until I rest in it. The Peace, which is like a river, is the constant of life given in Creation; it is not even my idea.
We tend to think of peace as the absence of war, for that is what comes to mind when we pray for peace (and the war might simply be an ongoing family feud). But when we remember that God is above the fighting, and that God breathed into us the life of divinity identity, it comes to us that the Peace of God — the Peace we “pass” during worship, the Peace we acknowledge and celebrate in this second week of Advent — is constant. It is like a river. And whether we step in it, or out of it, or in and out, it continues to flow through the history of humankind. It is ours to witness. It is ours to run through. It is ours to bathe in. It is ours to drink.
I guess it just comes down to how much we want it in our souls. In this day and age, as in all the days and ages past, we can never “have” it all the time. Life is not that way. But we can always know that it is there. We pray for Peace. Let us also pray for the Faith in its Author, the patience to Hope for its coming, and the Love to share it — when it is flowing out of us toward someone whose life is bereft of serenity or justice or relief or resentment. For if that someone is not us today, it will likely be us sometime in the future. And then we will step back into the river from the slippery riverbank and know that what we had known up to our ankles or knees or higher was the Truth all along.
It is in that River of Peace that we once again claim our Divinity Identity.
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(The picture in this Blog is not a river in North Georgia; it is, as you have already concluded, the River Jordan. Let us remember our baptism).
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