Peace: the fiber of our being

A Christian Science perspective: How the protesters outside the NATO summit in Chicago inspired peace.

The protesters arrived at the corner of my office building just as I was returning from lunch. But instead of hurrying to cross in front of them, I found I didn’t want to leave. In fact I found myself standing there, crying at the beauty of it all. The heartfelt chanting, the calm alertness of the police officers, the clarity of the late spring day. It brought back memories of the early 1970s and my own marching in the streets against the Vietnam War; this was clearly a more harmonious gathering.

My tears were welling up from a deep, deep gratitude – gratitude for the way God had moved my life in the last 40 years – gratitude for a long-sought understanding of true peace and peacemaking.

What I have learned is that peace speaks satisfaction. It’s not that everything is resolved outwardly (there is still much to learn and prove), but inwardly there’s this undeniable sense of God with me and that divine power of goodness is prevailing. This satisfaction can’t ask God for more, yet it has the certainty that anything more that’s needed will be given. This peace is the blessing of the divine Presence.

For too many years, my life was bowed down to restlessness and discontent. In vain I tried to work hard enough to feel satisfied with my effort. But the fruits always felt elusive. I realize now that peace is not something to be achieved after a human goal is accomplished. Peace is the foundation from which we can launch a project. Peace enables our prayer to settle even before we know the outcome of a prayer.

The great benefit of this peace is that we don’t have to live in a constant state of reaction to people and things. It is right to care when things need adjusting, but our caring no longer has to be heart wrenching. Every problem speaks the solution. Every thing not understood promises understanding. Every sin is the harbinger of forgiveness. Every disconnect, a bond purer and freer.

One small example: For the first time in six months, my phone service at my new office has been set up properly. This has been a tedious, time-consuming conversation with my telephone provider. The highest level of technical help was being accessed, but no one could solve the problem. They stopped calling me, and I couldn’t bear initiating another call to them.

But one morning, with a clearer sense that I could bring my peace to the solution, I made another call. The young customer service rep saw immediately the department that could help. Through my new advocate, the solution was found within 24 hours. No one could explain why a business account like mine would have been neglected for so long. They laughed when I told them I thought it was for my character development. It was for me to understand the power of peace.

This gave me a glimpse of the kind of peace that Christ Jesus lived. Jesus was not only thronged by people in need, but he was also constantly harassed by the Sadducees and Pharisees, who questioned his right to do most of the good he did.

But on the very night before his crucifixion, the Master promised this to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, New King James Version), and he greeted them after his resurrection with a salutation of peace.

Peace is not a human feeling that comes and goes. Peace is the very substance of our being. Christian Science teaches that the identity of each of us is the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26). Rather than assuming that we are burdened with various limitations of a fleshly body and mind, we are being introduced hourly to the divine attributes that constitute our real being. We live honestly because God is Truth. We live compassionately because God is Love. We live temperately because God is the controlling Principle of all life.

This perspective, that peace is the fiber of our being, gives me a new confidence about what was going on in Chicago last Sunday and Monday. Because God has endowed each of us – NATO conferees and protesters, police and bystanders – with this holy ingredient of peace, there is a divine power working in peacemaking that is sure to have an impact.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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