Peace be upon you
I matriculated from a Catholic School where mass always ended with Father Dryden’s greetings “Peace be upon you”, to which we replied “and also with you”.
Over these last few weeks that greeting resurfaced in my memory. In the middle of a storm in my heart that greeting became a rainbow. A promise of something I thought I would never know: Peace
As an ordinary Christian for the last 17 years I read many times about the Peace that Christ left for us. But I never understood it because in the reality of my life, Peace seemed like a fairytale.
This year has taught me so much about people, about love, about acceptance, about family, about my roots and about God.
I have spent too many years of my adult life trying to emulate the women around me especially the leading ladies in churches and the ladies in my social circle. I was never as miserable as those times in my life.
I felt more lonely, confused and wretched when trying to fit into their ideas of being a woman. As a parent to a child with special needs with a constantly changing diagnosis, I was always on the outside of their circle anyway and it took a mammoth effort on my part to just engage with other mothers.
Every now and then I’d be brought in from the outside of the circle for a hug and a measured out pouring of love which I gratefully accepted as my portion. Every now and then a head bowed in my direction in recognition of my potential. But when I asked for what I really needed or bared my very sad soul, their inability to handle my truth taught me then that as a woman, wife and mother, I was on my own.
This year, for the first time ever I found strength in that. Mentors are great when equality and respect flow both ways, but sometimes, for some, the only mentor good enough for the job, is God himself.
Now I’m no great theologian or scholar of the Bible but I’ve understood profoundly and soul deep that my life has been moulded by a master craftsman. I’ve survived too much heartache and have overcome unbelievable challenges for me to believe anything less.
This year was our greatest challenge as a family but we attended five weddings, three bridal showers, gave four parties and showed up for my extended family and friends whenever we could. I served on a board for an NGO while also being employed in a job where I witness deep heartaches and sweet miracles daily.
All this sometimes on too little sleep or no sleep; sometimes with a couple hundred invisible band aids on my fragmented soul I showed up and gave my very best every time.
As I recalled Father Dryden’s greeting, I realised I learnt a great truth this year. I finally knew what Peace felt like.
It is to accept the path before you, to look at it intently and to embrace it bravely.
It is to acknowledge that it will be frightening but not impossible.
It is to know that I don’t have to know everything and trusting that whatever comes, I am enough to handle it.
It is giving myself permission to walk away from what makes me miserable and to embrace what makes me strong.
It is finding myself again in dance. Allowing the music to move my body and help me turn bad energy into something beautiful.
It is to accept that some of us can’t be defined by anyone else’s interpretation of God’s plan. We are only defined by communion with Him and the courage to live our lives outside of the circle that others seek comfort in.
And even knowing this, sometimes in my loneliest moments courage fails me, and I wish for many things to be different. It is then I am stilled by this scripture “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
As Christmas draws closer, I wish you the best gift of all: Peace. May it be with you and cling to you like a favourite sweater or a great lipstick. May it help you rest and when you need to, may it help you rise.
Peace be with you.