My friend Michelle commented on the last post that she wished that her "peace-o-meter" worked well. I love that concept: peace-o-meter.
In Philippians 4:7, St. Paul says, "And the Peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Somehow in my early years, I came to understand this verse to mean that peace functioned as a kind of sentry or guard in our hearts to tell us when the city was secure and to warn us when we were in trouble. An expression I came to use based on this understanding was "follow the peace." And most of my adult life I have endeavoured to be guided by this principle. I follow the peace, awkwardly, haltingly, and sometimes reluctantly.
Following the peace occasionally looks very foolish. "Wisdom," as this world knows it, would have us scratch and fight and figure out and most of all WIN. But the wisdom that is from above is peaceable, according to St. James (3:17).
I think we all have peace-o-meters that work just fine. The problem is not so much that the meter is broken, but that we don't pay attention to it. And if we don't pay attention long enough, we can forget that it is there. We can even forget what peace is, what it feels like, what it is to be at peace even for a moment.
One of the main goals of the spiritual life is to attend to our peace-o-meter. In fact, I will go so far as to say the purpose of religion (good religion, O/orthodox religion), prayer, asceticism, and good works is to teach us to attend to peace: peace toward God and peace toward one another. When we are at peace with God and neighbour, then we can say we are in God's will or that we are being transfigured into the Image of Christ.
But how do we get there? If I can't even find my peace-o-meter, if I can't even remember what peace is like, what do I do? Certainly there are lots of ways to begin. To begin anywhere is much better than to do nothing because you don't know where to begin. But if we take a look at St. Paul's letter to the Philippians and the context in which he makes this statement about peace guarding our hearts and minds, we can also see some clues, especially for those who are already fully immersed in the Church but have somehow lost their inner way.
I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all people. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving[s], let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.