My Peace I give you
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
In 1919, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote his famous poem, The Second Coming, in response to the devastation of World War I, the hysteria of the flu epidemic, and a general perception that the world was coming undone.
…Turning, turning into a widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart, the center cannot hold…
Faced with the recent tornado destruction and human loss in Nashville, the rising frenzy and genuine fear surrounding the Coronavirus, the vitriol and deepening political discord in our country, the opioid epidemic and cancer everywhere, it would not be stretch, like Yeats, to believe the center is not holding.
Read on in the poem and it appears that Yeats lost all hope. I confess, this past week I succumbed to the coronavirus hysteria and stocked the house with zinc lozenges, cough syrup, bone broth, Advil for an army, toilet paper, vitamin C, and a month’s worth of dark chocolate. I’m prepared if Yeat’s metaphorical beast comes our way, but my Amazon purchases did nothing to soothe my interior anxiety. The truth is: the center will never hold if it is dependent on my human capacity. When I rely on myself, trying to control my today and tomorrow—-I fail miserably. I leave no space for grace to do its work. Things do fall apart.
Last week, I visited a family who lost their home and most of their belongings to the tornado. Their roof was literally taken off its frame and tossed who knows where. Hanging on the only remaining wall of their house of sixty years was an engraved plaque that read: Because God lives, I can face tomorrow.
In uncertain times, our best defense is to seek our spiritual center. It is strong enough to hold us. Disconnected from God, we are incredibly vulnerable creatures. The antithesis of faith is fear. Self-determination alone sets up miserable failure. Muscle only gets us so far. Jesus knew intimately the internal and external toll of being human, especially when faced with life’s uncertainties and heartbreaks. Remember His heart-rendering plea: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup of suffering away from me–nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” I love this prayer because it exemplifies true and authentic faith. We are not superhuman. Life is going to scare us. But remember what Jesus did and God hopes we will do. Dig deep and trust God’s promise: Whatever happens, all will be made well.
The Corona “beast” is trying to turn our lives upside down. Take this time to focus on what really matters: God, Family, Food and Nature. I promise these four essentials will help you endure whatever is ahead.
Accept this time-out-of-time as an unlikely gift to check in and make sure your center is secure. Show some extra love in your marriage, family life and friendships. Maybe you can’t go to your office, or school, or even church—–but Mother Nature has her arms wide open for you. Take a walk in the trees, inhale the beauty and exhale the anxiety. Pull out your soup pots and make your kitchen table an altar of joy and blessings. Commit to being a voice of peace and hope in the hysteria. This is not a time to quarantine Love. Just get creative in the way you express it. Pray with renewed zeal. All that really needs to be said is: Dear God, be with us!
We must hold on to Jesus’s words like a child’s security blanket: My peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
P.S. With God, the center will always hold. Count on it!
My son Charlie gifted me with this song, Peace Be Still, by Lauren Daigle. I especially love the refrain: Let faith rise up in me!