By Blaney Pridgen
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
A verse from an old hymn in Anglican tradition claims,“the peace of God it is no peace, but strife closed in the sod.” The title of the hymn, gleaned from the first line, is They Cast Their Nets. It’s about the miserable deaths that the apostles met in traditional Christian lore. This is not the kind of hymn one sings in the worship centers where there is no pipe organ, even if it is digital, and the preacher wears jeans, even if he has a degree in divinity from somewhere. It is the kind of hymn the lends a bit of theological brooding in the dim but rich light of a stained-glass window. But is that the truth about the peace of God? The honesty and sober reflection of old age say “yes,” with the qualificationsof healthy hope and reasonable optimism. Peace is precious like the quarter a child finds in the grass. We know this, regardless of our sentimental longings.
We have an electric floor heater that looks like an old-fashioned wood stove complete with fake fire from glowing plastic logs. It’s a silly thing, but it colorfully warms a bit of space. On cold mornings, I put a memory foam pet bed in front of it. Either the dog or cat find it. Watching their rest and deep peace there is a source of joy for me that doesn’t feel artificial at all. In a roundabout way, it feels like giving a $10 bill to a human being whose home is on the streets. However trite or sentimental, we can find a modicum of peace on this side of the dirt nap.
In times like these, we best remember the bits of peace we have known. Those recollected bits of peace, however insubstantial, are evidence of grace, however fleeting. They are not fake fire from glowing plastic logs. They are more than that. They are real warmth, however piecemeal, in an otherwise cold world.
Peace is probably best understood as the absence of conflict. Making conflict go away or ceasing to be the source of conflict begins the construction of peace. Blessed are the peace contractors; they got their license from heaven. The folk who prolong conflict and like to stir things up got their license from someplace else. By the way, dear reader, where did you receive your license?
Pondering peace and strife, consider anger. We may be one of three anger types. The first is the person who gets and stays angry. This type seems to be angry about something all of the time. Their anger floats from one thing to another. The second is the person who gets angry every now and then, but they get over it or at least trying to handle it in some creative way. They certainly “fly off the handle” every now and then and it’s usually one anger at a time, but they get past it. Unlike the first type, this type realizes that anger is unattractive. The third is the person who does not get angry or if they do, it is seldom. When this 3rd type expresses anger, everyone is startled and knows to take the person seriously. This third type pities the first type as a hopelessly handicapped person and endeavors to help the second type get on with their lives. One caveat: an individual might be a type one or two pretending to be a type three. They stuff their anger(s)down deep and one day it explodes like a destructive volcano. Call this person type two and a half. They are bad news.
What does this have to do with the peace of God, which ends up being strife closed in the sod? Perhaps life is so filled with these anger types swirling about, in and out of power, that peace is at best piecemeal. When and whenever we find it, we should celebrate it, however passing it may be. And we might consider causing peace instead of waiting around and complaining, expecting someone else to make peace. Go try to make a piece of peace while waiting for the sod.