Have you ever thought of becoming a peacemaker? I don't mean just in places where there are big wars or among the gangs who roam the back streets of cities.
I mean right in your own home. In your classroom. On the playing field. It seems like a lot of people are angry. You hear about "road rage," "hate-my-teacher rage," even "summer sales rage." The world has never needed peacemakers more.
I was forced to become one at the age of 10. Almost every afternoon on my way home from school, a boy who was older and bigger than I was bullied me. He would jump at me from behind a tree, fall in step with me, and use the foulest language I'd ever heard. When I walked faster, he would, too. Not many people used that street, and I was often very scared.
I knew I wasn't big enough to fight him. And I couldn't report him to anyone because I hadn't a clue where he came from or what his name was.
Then I remembered that my mom and dad used to say all the time that we have to love our enemies. But how could I even start to love this guy? It's easy with people who love you, people you trust. Not so easy with those who don't like you or even plan to hurt you. I realized I didn't have to love the way he was acting, but I did need to try to see him as one of God's family - same family as mine.
I checked the Bible to find out about those enemies and learned that Jesus didn't stop loving the people who hated him. And he said we should do three more things: do good to them, bless them, and pray for them (see Luke 6:27, 28).
So I started by praying for the boy. Gradually I saw that love means action, and that the best way to put love to work is to make the first move. And I trusted that God would never call on me to do anything without giving me a way to carry it out.
Next afternoon when the boy showed up, I heard a rattling in his pocket. I'd have known the sound of marbles anywhere. Though not many people still play marbles, I was pretty good at it, and that day I had a bunch of "cat's eyes," "reds," and "blues" in my pocket, which I'd won in a game at lunch hour.
"I guess you shoot a cool game of marbles," I commented as casually as I could.
"What d'ya mean? Nobody plays that."
"With your height and those long arms, you're probably pretty accurate," I said. "You seem to have a steady hand, too." I took out a handful of my marbles, which he reached out to take.
"It's OK," I said as convincingly as my shaking legs would allow. "I brought them for you." It wasn't what I'd planned to say, but somehow the words just came out. It was as though God was right there telling me what to say.
He stepped back in amazement. "For me?"
"Yup, I won them at lunch today. Hope you like them."
For at least 20 seconds he was speechless. Eventually he grinned. "They're great. Thanks."
I had found something that he really cared about, and we talked marbles all the way home.
We met a few more times on the way back from school, and then his family moved to another city.
"I'll miss you," he said on our last afternoon together. Notice, he said it first.
"I'll miss you, too," I said. And, you know, I meant it.
It's only now that I realize it was my first experience of real peacemaking - and it certainly hasn't been my last. But it's one I'll always remember.
So, back to my first question. Have you ever thought of becoming a peacemaker? The world needs you. Right now.
The ideas in this article are explored more fully in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called
sons of God.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor