My verse of scripture for this morning’s Lectio Divina was from John’s Gospel..
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid. John 14:27
In my reflection I began to wonder what kind of peace the world gives. I guess there are many ways in which we seek peace in the world, undoubtedly many helpful ones such as talking therapies which can help to release deep sources of inner anxiety and conflict. Such therapies are hugely important where inner tensions exist and along with other treatments contribute greatly to the healing process. I would always strongly encourage people to seek help in this way whenever mental health is disrupted.
We can also find peace in nature, music and other hobbies and interests that we become absorbed in as well as spending quality time with those close to us. All of these approaches can alleviate our stresses to a degree and can even help to build mental resilience, but lasting peace is harder to achieve as the external world will always have its conflicts and crises that impact upon us and disturb our peace of mind.
Sometimes we might even attempt to seek peace through less helpful/healthy means such as through various addictions, which really is just avoidance, and any perceived peace of mind from these is extremely short term, that is until the next fix. So we can see then that our success in seeking peace in the world will vary in degree but in the end it will always be vulnerable in the face of external pressures.
But what of the peace that Jesus offers us that is not of this world. And if it is not of this world then just where is it of! Well the first clue lies in John 18:36 My Kingdom is not of this world and the second clue lies in Luke 17:21, the Kingdom of God is within you.
We are also told in Philippians 4:7 that ’The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’
From this then we can derive that this peace that Christ gives already exists within us and when we discover it, it will keep our hearts and our minds in that deep and unfathomable state of serenity. That is not to say that the world won’t continue to present challenges but underpinning our response to these is an unshakeable deep peace that will last, not just for now as we sojourn in this world but it is the continuing state that underpins all eternity.
Scripture is packed full of references to this inner peace, probably the most obvious and well loved being that of the 23rd psalm, others are less obvious and yet others are ‘hidden in full view’.
Accessing this tranquillity is the work of the contemplative, which is not a special calling at all, we are all invited to look within our own soul to discover God’s hidden treasures but many prefer not to. Learning to withdraw our faculties from our outward facing senses (which we use to seek worldly solutions) and training them to be still opens us up the ‘senses of the soul’ that the deep peace of which Jesus speaks may be known in the fullest sense of what it is to know! The world can never give you this peace, but then it doesn’t need to as it already exists within you it’s simply a matter of knowing how to look.
Learning to be deeply still for just a couple of sessions a day, no more than 20 minutes per session, will take you so much deeper than simply achieving a worldly peace of mind. This practise will reposition your sense of security away from the external world and locate it firmly in that place within your soul that is non other than God’s ground itself… and here you will discover the truth of what the psalmist proclaims…’Be still and know that I am God’ Psalm 46:10.
For more information on how to enter contemplative silence see here Contemplative Silence Video