Finding Shalom

Music is a discipline--it takes practice. Musicians practice scales—up and down, up and down, our entire lives. We practice chords and music theory. As we practice and become more proficient, we start to realize that it’s not just playing the scales that’s important—it’s how you play them and integrate them into your musical vocabulary that matters. We start to understand that it’s the spaces between the notes—the pauses, that change a scale from practice for the fingers into the pronouncement of a new musical composition. Check out Michel Petrucciani to hear what I’m writing about.

Peace works the same way. Becoming a peaceful person, finding peace amidst the turmoil of a busy life, takes practice too. Peace is often found in the pauses between tension—either our own inner tension or tension in the world at large.

So, we think of peace in two ways: externally, the kind of peace that’s found between global conflicts, and internally, the sort of peace we seek in our daily lives. Either way, I believe, as did Jesus and Paul, that both forms of peace only come from a relationship with God. In Romans 8.6 Paul wrote, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” He’s talking about our human tendency to concentrate on the material world. We’re easily distracted by external things and ownership. The physical world makes us competitive, possessive, and mean-spirited. But if we instead focus on God’s Spirit flowing through all creatures, we find a more peaceful demeanor and existence. The internal becomes the external. Until we find internal peace, there will never be global peace.

Finding that internal peace takes discipline. We have to practice, just like musicians practice scales and theory. To practice finding internal peace we pray and meditate. We might say the rosary if we’re Catholic, the Hare Krishna if we’re Hindu. We might read and watch spiritually evocative content. There are many ways for us to connect to God and find the serenity and calm in our lives that only God can bring—an inner sense of calm and peace our ancestors called Shalom.

Meditation: Make me the instrument of your peace. Amen.

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