Category Archives: 25 days for Peace (2015)

Adieu (DOP #25 2015)

This, my last post in 25 Days for Peace, is deplorably late.  I felt drawn to my final post from last year, and wanting to create something like it, found myself stuck.  It took until early this afternoon to breakaway from a desire to repost last years and call it done.  It felt wrong to end with a repost, however, so I missed the deadline in order to bring something fresh.  What I found follows. 

There comes a time in every journey when the final step is taken.  Frodo departs for the Grey Havens, Peter, Lucy and Edmund find themselves “farther up and further in”.  The Little Prince finds his way home, Jean Valjean finds the arms of Fantine as he crosses between worlds, Elijah Bailey solves the last mysterious murder, and Harry Potter watches as his children board the train to Hogwarts.   In those moments, there is a finality, a sense of accomplishment and resolution.  There just isn’t anymore to the story.  The steps that can be taken have been.  It is over.

I am tempted to greet the end of this 25 days of writing in the same way.  A journey that has been completed.  I have taken all of the steps required of me and written my 25 posts.  I can rest in a sense of accomplishment and completion.  It was a more difficult journey this year, and it was difficult to find time to write.  I miss the depths I was able to explore last year, but at the same time I think this year has changed me more than last.  I think I recognize the change in me the most in the discovery that my journey is not yet over.

The sense of finality that I can apply to a fictional characters story does not belong to me.  I live past what I have written, and I endure beyond the end of this challenge.  I do not cease to exist now that I am done writing for the year.

I find that I must compare my position now to that of Christ, born so many years ago.  Most Biblical historians believe that roughly 4000 years passed from the moment in the garden where Christ was first foretold, to the time when He was born of a human woman.  His birth begins the ending of the story of the old testament, being the fulfillment of many prophecies found inside of it.  In that moment, he begins a new story, living on earth for the next 33 years.  In his death, He strikes the mortal blow to death itself, rising again from seeming defeat.  The book ends.  The Bible is complete.

Yet the story continues.

We live in anticipation of the fulfillment of more prophecy.  We believe that each moment draws us closer to the end of this earth, and the creation of something new.  The story is not over, but continues on, steadily progressing to a new beginning.

In this I find that my story is not yet over.  I have more to do, and an end of my own to work towards.  Writing about peace is my old testament, now I am poised to continue the work.  I don’t know what that means, but I do know that there is more to be done.  Instead of finding an ending at the conclusion of this month, I am finding a new direction.  Again, I don’t know what the future holds, there are no prophecies (that I am aware of) about my final destination.  I do know that the work began in me will be completed.

So for now friends, adieu.  Your companionship in this journey has been most comforting.

More (DOP #23 2015)

Here I am trying to wrap my mind around peace, when the Bible describes Jesus peace as “a peace that surpasses all understanding”.  I have learned so much over the past two years of doing this, but it is humbling to note that Jesus has a peace that I will never be able to fully comprehend or understand.

In a way that is terrifying.  It almost makes me want to stop trying to understand what I can about peace.

Yet, in another way it is like reading a series of books, but knowing that you’ll never reach the end of the story, and the story will just keep getting better and better.   There is no limit to God’s peace.  There is nothing that he can not choose to fix.  The ocean seems like a muddle puddle in comparison to the depth of his peace.

I’m glad I haven’t reached the end of understanding.  I’m glad there is more to the story!

25 Days for Peace is a cooperative blogging experiment between myself and five other artists, designed to explore the facets of peace, particularly centered around this season intended to experience the peace of Christ. Visit this page to see the other contributions to this journey, and like it to join with us in exploring what peace means.

Gun (DOP #22 2015)

One of the biggest changes I have seen in myself during this process has been pretty unexpected and totally un-looked for.  The world we live in is very dark at times, people can do terrible things to other people.  Sometimes those acts are politically motivated, and sometimes those acts are simply the acts of a broken person.  Many times those actions take the form of violence against large groups of people.  Often those acts of violence involve guns.  At one point in this journey, I sat down to write about the gun control debate, I got about 800 words and roughly an hour into it, and then set the article aside because it wasn’t finished, but I had lost my sense of direction for the post.  I haven’t yet gone back to it.

In the process of trying to write that article I found a lot of questions I couldn’t answer, questions that I couldn’t even clearly state to myself.  In my mind, I was leafing through a whole book of “what if’s” asking myself if what I was hoping to say would apply to this situation or that situation.  Did I want to encourage gun ownership?  Was I suggesting that gun ownership should be restricted?  Maybe I wanted to work towards gun ownership classes or certification requirements.  I never really found a satisfactory answer for most of these questions.  The issue is far too dense, and there were far too many facets of the discussion for me to fully consider.

So I set the article aside, waiting for some clarity before I returned to it.

As I was driving along a stretch of highway between worksites, something finally clicked.  I was focusing too much on the national issue, and not nearly enough on wrestling with my own personal position.   I have gone through 12 hours of state approved training, and possess the legal right to carry a concealed weapon.  I will not say when or where I have carried my legally acquired weapon, but there have been times when I have.  I can tell you that most of those times were in situations where my overwhelming concern was a mass shooting situation.  I seldom carried it on my person otherwise.

I have had discussions about this with other people I share life with.  Many times these people would have divided responses.  One would accept my choice as logical, and a good step to ensure I would be able to respond in a life threatening situation.  Others I know would say that their own personal beliefs on the subject would not allow them to pursue the same path I was on.  I have several wise friends I have discussed this with, and I don’t know that they ever came to a consensus.  Each person seemed to point back to it ultimately being a personal decision.

So my personal decision was that I would continue to arm myself when I felt it was appropriate.  My added caveat was that I would only use the weapon in defense of groups of people outside of myself.  I played back imagined situation after imagined situation where I was being mugged on the street, and willingly gave up my wallet, even though I knew I was armed and could stop the robbery.  Other imagined situations involved large crowds, and a gunman that I would stop as he attempted mass murder.  Happily, I never had to experience either of these situations.  I know how I would have liked to respond in each of them, but I do not KNOW how I would have responded, and I suspect there is no way to know without actually being in the moment.

I can’t remember the trigger that caused my mind to change so abruptly a few days ago on that potholed and worn road, but I remember that I clearly had a shift in my mental approach to my concealed carry permit.

I had forgotten to include God in the mix.

I had always viewed my efforts in the light of providing protection to others.  I even felt that God was condoning it, that God knew I was ready for whatever might come my way.   Perhaps God would put me in the right place at the right time and I could be a hero!  It sounds stupid when you put it in writing, but at least some of my approach was based in this desire to be a hero.  I suppose that the ultimate trigger for the change in my approach is God himself.

I wrote at the beginning of this 25 days about Syrian refugees, and shared about how they were being compared to dangerous snakes.  I then cherry picked a verse from the Bible where Jesus says that we will be bitten by dangerous snakes, but that we will not be harmed.  Do I really believe that?  If I do, then why do I carry a weapon?  When Jesus asks us to turn the other cheek, does that only apply to a slap?  Or did he mean more than that when he told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

God has the power to protect whomever he deems it necessary to protect.  He also has the right to stand (seemingly) idly by as I or others are bitten, and perhaps killed.  When I accepted his sacrifice in atonement for my sins, I also accept that I should try to live my life the way he instructs.  In exchange (not an equal exchange I might add) he has promised that even in death, I will not be harmed.  I have been assured of a future that is bright and peaceful in eternity, I want to begin to pursue that even now.

So at this point, I may no longer be carrying a weapon, but let me assure you that if a situation arises where others are in danger, I hope to gladly wade in to the fight with whatever is at hand, a soup can, a flashlight, anything I can find.  In that moment I pray that I will trust God to protect me, and perhaps He will be able to protect others through me.  Whatever the end result, I will not be harmed.  I will be at peace.

25 Days for Peace is a cooperative blogging experiment between myself and five other artists, designed to explore the facets of peace, particularly centered around this season intended to experience the peace of Christ. Visit this page to see the other contributions to this journey, and like it to join with us in exploring what peace means.

Light (DOP #21 2015)

Today (Monday) happens to be the Winter Solstice, the day with the longest night of the year.   As I glance outside, it does seem pretty dark.  Would I know that this is the darkest day of the year if I hadn’t heard about it on the radio?  Probably not.  It seems dark all of the time now.  If I happen to be working in the warehouse during the day, I barely see any sun at all.  I arrive at work as the sun is rising and leave as it is setting.  My free time is in darkness.

It seems a little extra dark this year.

It seems like the forces at play in this world are doing everything they can to pull the world apart at the seams.   From wild political rhetoric to mass shootings around the globe, from refugee crisis to cancer claiming another life, it seems like all we see around us is darkness.  We long for simpler times, for the daylight of years past.  We are surrounded by trouble and do not know where to turn for answers.

Well, at least it seems dark to me.

When I was young, I read in a book that light has the properties of both a wave, and a particle.  For some reason that one sentence has stuck with from an entire book of sentences that I don’t remember.  How can it be both?  A sound is just a wave, and a grain of sand is a particle, but how can light be both?  For hundreds of years, physicists have debated back and forth about light being one thing and not the other.  For a while, most would agree that it was a particle, based on the experiments they could perform at the time, but eventually someone would get results that suggested that light was in fact a wave, and the opinion of science would shift towards light being a wave.  Eventually in the 1920s, the scientific world accepted that light must in fact have the properties of both.  Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work with light, and for beginning to understand the wave-particle duality it exhibited.    Light is something that is two things at once!

No one really fully understands it.

For whatever reason, and there are a lot of very good ones, light has always symbolized hope to humanity.  Perhaps it began when predators would hunt us in the night.  Perhaps we learned to prefer light to darkness as we left the womb and the world we thought we knew expanded beyond our wildest expectations.  Scary stories are told at night, when we can’t see what is around us.  Will you ever forget the first night you slept outside and prayed for the sun to come up, or ran back into your house terrified of the unexplained noises you heard?  When an artist portrays his or her interpretation of the afterlife, it is filled with light.   As humans, we generally associate light with hope, and darkness with despair.

It is no mistake that we celebrate Christmas at this time of year, and it is no mistake that light is such a prominent part of the celebration.  We put up lights on our houses,  on our trees, we burn candles together in community services.  We dream of a white Christmas, with bright snow covering the ground, and we sit in the red light of a fire, blissfully watching the flames crawl through the wood we have placed there.  We need light in such a dark time of the year.  We create it in any way that we can, and we celebrate it when we see it.

In the same way we seek hope at this time of the year.  We watch sappy movies about Christmas miracles, and we hope for just a taste of Christmas magic.  We throw parties and spend time with friends and family.  We celebrate the good that has come over the past year.  We pray for and actually hope for world peace,  In a way, we have to, because the darkness would drive us mad if we never found an escape from it.  We need some joy to make it through the darkest nights of the year.

We celebrate in this season something that is two things at once, particle and wave.

We also celebrate the birth of someone who was two things at once.

Jesus was born fully human, and yet he was also fully God.

No one really fully understands it.

Just like light can bring hope into the darkest of times, Jesus can bring hope to us in our hour of greatest need.  He is the great light shining in the darkness, and he was born as a baby placed in a manger.  He is the creator of all things, but choose to live as one who was created. He created life, but was obedient, even unto death.  Emmanuel, God with us.

Without the radio, would I know that this is the darkest night of the year?  I might know that this is the darkest night so far, but if I was that observant, perhaps I would also have noticed that each day is getting darker.  Perhaps I would have no hope as I only expected the days to become shorter and shorter until the light has disappeared altogether.

Would I know that tomorrow is going to be a little bit brighter?

I certainly would have no reason to expect that with the evidence all around me.  But it is true!  Tomorrow will be brighter!

We may not know the day when Jesus will restore light and peace to the land we live in, but we can know that one day he will.

It could even be tomorrow.

Bringer (DOP #20 2015)

Some conflicts are easy to solve.  The person at fault realizes what they have done and asks for forgiveness.  The person who was wronged accepts the apology, and the relationship is restored.  Perhaps this process isn’t even verbalized, but peace is restored because it is obvious both sides are ready.

Other conflicts are not so easily solved.  The deeper the wrong, the harder it is for both sides to find their way back to a peaceful resolution.

It is this kind of conflict we find ourselves in with our creator.  We have all sinned deeply (including and perhaps especially me) and when we do realize our wrong, we are so far gone that we feel the relationship is destroyed forever.

This is where Jesus enters the scene.  As I read the beginning of the Christmas story today in Luke, the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 suddenly snapped into greater clarity.  In Matthew 5, Jesus talks about those who are peacemakers being called children of God.

I always found that interesting, what did Jesus mean when he said  “children of God”?

Today, I was reminded that Jesus is the race maker between us and our Creator.  The child of God has brought peace between two parties that were as far apart as the east is from the west.  When we bring peace to others, we imitate the role of Jesus. We are called children of God.

It is an incredible privilege.

Seek it out.