Recently, I spent several days in the Rocky Mountains, participating in a friend’s wedding. The weather was perfect, the setting epic – full of serenity, beauty, expansive views, and the simple majesty of colossal, tree-covered mountains. And with no cell reception or Internet access, I was completely engrossed in my surroundings.
The days were quite busy, but at one point, as my economy-sized rental car chugged its way up some mountain road and I took in the scenery, I realized how very peaceful I felt. It was a wonderful feeling.
When it was time to leave and head home, I soon found myself in circumstances that were in sharp contrast to that scene – standing in a discouragingly long line at airport security, surrounded by noise, annoyed that my bag felt so heavy on my shoulder, and irritably hungry after the lengthy drive back to the airport. I felt anything but peaceful. “I guess those days are over,” I thought wistfully – and admittedly a bit dramatically.
But then, in the midst of my vexation, came this sudden thought: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” I recognized this as something Christ Jesus – the Prince of Peace – said, as recounted in the book of John in the Bible (14:27).
What is this peace Jesus promised us, and how is it different from what “the world giveth”? In Galatians, we read that peace is among “the fruit of the Spirit” (see 5:22). This means that true peace, then, is of God, divine Spirit; is spiritual, not found in matter.
It occurred to me that if I were relying on physical location or circumstance to find peace, it would be a transient sense of peace – coming and going as my surroundings changed. I might feel peace in the tranquility of a beautiful mountain weekend, but feel that I’ve lost it when faced with a busy airport or agitated crowds. But Jesus and Paul assured us of a deeper, lasting, spiritual peace that is ours to experience wherever we happen to be.
The founder of Christian Science and the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, explains the basis for such peace. Her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” teaches, “Since God is All, there is no room for His unlikeness” (p. 339), and we learn in the first chapter of Genesis that God’s likeness, man, is only good (see Genesis 1:26, 31).
This means that because God, divine Spirit, is All, there truly can be only harmony and goodness – a state of peace that is eternal and incorruptible, because it comes from Spirit. Another of Mrs. Eddy’s works explains, “To attain peace and holiness is to recognize the divine presence and allness” (“Message to The Mother Church for 1902,” p. 16).
Standing in that line at security, I gave those ideas a lot of thought. I prayed to know that no matter what the situation might seem to be, God’s allness and goodness is forever, and that spiritually we are all embraced by that peaceful, loving power – and untouched by anything else. We can’t lose this. It’s part of who we, as God’s spiritual likeness, are.
As I considered this, I felt an uplift in my thought, and the noise around me ceased to be distracting. When it was my turn to go through security and I lifted my bag off my shoulder, I noticed that its weight no longer felt burdensome; the ache in my shoulder had vanished. I hadn’t eaten anything, but my hunger pangs had subsided. I instinctively smiled at the travelers and agents around me. I felt a deep sense of calm that stayed with me for the rest of the trip, even as other difficulties arose.
This modest experience showed me that our sense of peace doesn’t need to be limited by our surroundings, because peace itself comes from God, Spirit. So we can look to the one God, good, for deep, spiritual peace that is everlasting. And as we let this understanding fill our thought, we can see and demonstrate qualities of peace in our own experience – wherever we are.