Ever since I was a little girl, growing up in the Episcopal Church, I marveled at the concept of the peace of God. I first learned it as part of the blessing, at the end of Communion, in Rite I of the Prayer Book. “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep you hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, Jesus Christ…” These words were virtually taken from today’s reading.
I cannot get my very-human mind around the notion of God’s peace – and of course that is because it is unfathomable as the passage says. But imagine if you were in the midst of that peace. This is where I have always wanted to be – smack dab in the middle of God’s loving peace. What would it feel like? Would it be so overwhelming that I would be unable to appreciate it? Would it look like I was in the middle of the clouds, with angels singing all around? Can you imagine having no worries of any kind, no anxiety, even about what clothes you will wear, or what the weather will be like, or what you’ll make for dinner that night, or whether or not you will lose everything in the stock market that day?
The notion of God’s peace is all the more potent to me during the season of Lent. I always get pretty emotional during Lent, particularly the first week. I become overwhelmed by my humanity and I marvel at the very thought that God, the maker of the universe, could actually love me. I become acutely aware of my failures and I come up with a whole list of reasons why God would never love me.
But, not only does he love me, he offers me his peace. Complete and total peace. There is no price tag. It’s there, waiting for me. It reminds me of Da Vinci’s painting in the Sistine Chapel, of God reaching for man, offering peace beyond understanding, and the man, lounging on a cloud, looking away from God, barely trying to grasp God’s outstretched hand, as if it would take far too much time and energy. Why doesn’t the man just reach a little further to get the very thing that his soul is longing for? Indeed, why don’t we?