An 18th century Russian holy man, referred to as the Seraphim of Sarov, is famously quoted as saying, “Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousand souls around shall be saved.” As much as I believe those wise words, I have trouble putting them into practice. I would prefer to DO something, to FIX something, and to SEE results. Whether the issue has to do with systemic racism, poverty, gun violence, or presidential candidates that make me want to throw a brick at the television, it’s really, really difficult for me to take responsibility for my own feelings, my own tendencies, and my own possibility for change. It’s hard for me to imagine having that “spirit of peace” in a way that is not passive in the face of injustice, nor relinquishes Christian discipleship and responsibility. And so, I keep coming to church. I keep praying. I keep looking to other people of faith for tips and suggestions and support.
Though we typically think of Eastertide as the season for resurrection and renewal, I’ve noticed that my own spirit seems to feel more enlivened and hopeful in the fall. Even though things in the natural world begin to fade and die this time of year, I know that there’s room for new growth. I know that new life will follow.
And so, I recommit myself to becoming a person of peace, an instrument of peace. And I invite you to do the same. This doesn’t mean I won’t talk back to politicians, send letters of protest, or speak out when the Spirit prompts me—but it does mean I’ll pray even more deeply that God would enable me to be more a part of the solution than the problem, more a part of the healing than the the hurting.
An article for the All Souls Weekly, August 30, 2015.