In this second week of Advent, the theme is peace.
Where is peace these days?
I walk into the barn in early morning. After feeding our four horses, I grab a rake and roll the wheelbarrow into the first of four stalls—spaces where our horses find refuge from freezing winter wind, hot summer sun and biting August flies.
It is cold and my ungloved fingers hurt. I hurry to clean the smelling messes they’ve made.
Shania, my oldest and sweetest mare, notices my presence and walks in to join me. She stands in the center, all 1100 pounds of her. I try to clean around her while thinking about my cares: a mile-long to-do list, a daughter who might be having a bipolar relapse, several elderly who have died in the last couple months, grieving families, friends battling cancer and other chronic illnesses, the world and its terror and tears. I could pray all day and get nothing else done. I feel the weight of my to-do’s, of all the prayers needing prayed.
Shania stands still.
She’s in my way. I have too many cares. I want these stalls done quickly.
I try to push her away with my hand. She doesn’t budge. I try to clean in front of her, beside her, under her, behind her.
She stands still.
Exasperated, I stop and look her in the eye—her one blue eye staring into my two. I can read her. I know what she’s saying to me without words.
She wants connection. With me. That’s why she came into the stall.
She seeks me. Just as I am. For who I am. Not because I clean her stall or feed her grain or brush her coat. She seeks me just because she loves me. She wants to be near me. Always.
I lean the rake against the wall of the stall and step toward her. She lets me approach. I run my fingers gently along her cheek. Suddenly, I am struck with the reality of how I’ve been so busy attending to her stall that I’ve paid no attention to the one for whom it was built, except as something in the way of my plans, my to-do’s, my very busy days, my cares.
And there was no rest for my soul.
But Shania simply stood, waiting for me patiently. She waited until I lifted my heavy head, until I saw her longing eyes, until I decided to put down my rake, empty my hands, and open my heart—to her. I buried my face in the thick or her fur, wrapping my arms around her neck, tears wetting. And she stayed there still, letting me hug and cry, letting me tell her I was sorry for ignoring her presence with me in her stall. When I pulled back, I found her still looking into my eyes—her one blue meeting my two.
Peace found me in my cold, hurried, scattered. Peace stayed still, long enough for me to see, to embrace, to let me be loved.
The cares of this world will be with us always. Yet, Peace stands firmly in our midst.
Do we want him yet—our Peace within—our Peace between—our Peace on Earth?
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
For he himself is our peace. Ephesians 2:14