Tangible Peace

Tangible Peace

Reblogged from: Orange Community of Christ’s “Peace Blog”
by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Orange, California, USA
“You too can be carved anew by the details of your devotions.” Mary Oliver

We overlook the simple things so often, searching for greater signs of God’s shalom.

And yet, there are so many tangible forms of God that we can experience with our bodily senses, daily, that contain real substance and sustenance.

Peace-making is, yes, of course, advocacy, spiritual formation, dialogue, political will, programs and planning.

And yet, it something so simple and earthly. We know Mother Teresa not because of her accolades as a religious scholar or political figure, but by the raw, human act of flesh touching flesh- holding in her arms the bodies of the dying and giving them new life, worth, and purpose in their final breaths of this existence. We have raised her to a status she never sought for doing something any of us can do at any time; reaching out to touch suffering with our own bare hands.

Signs of peace are everywhere when we begin to see with this kind of looking.

Today, we drove around in a van picking up barely expired food from grocery stores. It was a mundane task. My husband does this every Monday morning. We were hauling carts full and separating food into boxes; chicken, vegetables, crackers, bread, anything that could no longer live on the shelf.

And yet, in seeing, in touching, in transporting this food that would feed neighbors in need, that would calm anxiety in the hearts of mothers desperate to take care of their families, I felt the significance of that act. The textures, colors, smells all tangible peace; peace that can be consumed and that will sustain and provide energy and life.

The substance, the material of our lives does, can mean something.

The pots and pans and clothes and shoes and frames and food that people are constantly bringing to the church to share once every two months with our community at Free-4-All is another example of tangible peace. It is peace we can feel, and see- that has rough or smooth edges and a smell, maybe a taste. It is a meal cooked in a pan that was shared out of love and the urge of simplicity as we live the God-life ever more fully.

Hands wet and soapy washing out the mugs we use for our coffee at church in a small attempt to care for creation while we form community together.

Candles burnt down low from hours standing witness to our worship.

Corn up to my waist in the peace garden, green and tall.

Does the smell of fresh baked bread make you crave communion and its radical inclusion?

School supplies collected in the church office, taking up space on the floor, offerings of peace to the kids in our community- paper and pencils and crayons- instruments of creativity and growth. Do we realize that young hands will grasp them in moments of revelation and moments of struggle?

Do you smell peace, community, in the wafting aroma of end-of-summer cookouts in your neighborhood? Signs of belonging? Symbols of shalom?

Do you hear peace in the laughter of children crossing the street after school? In the hands, the muscles at work, of the crossing guard holding her sign and keeping her watch?

Another sunset, stretching colors, purple, orange, and blue, across the horizon, bringing relief to a weary world, and the promise of a new day to come.

We overlook the simple things so often, searching for greater signs of God’s shalom.

And yet, there are so many tangible forms of God that we can experience with our bodily senses, daily, that contain real substance and sustenance.

Tangible peace in the details of our lives.

May we pay attention, feel, see, smell, taste, and share.

2 thoughts on “Tangible Peace

  1. David Brock says:

    Wow! What a gift to us as readers. What a gift each moment can be. What a gift your capacity to see clearly, listen deeply, feel so fully. Thank you, Katie …and Zach.

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