“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives.
Don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27, Common English Bible)
I’ve been back from my 8 Day Directed Retreat for a week now, and it still feels like I’m settling back into life in the “world” so to speak. This was a new experience to try—23 hours a day of silence for 8 full days on retreat. And in the midst of a pandemic no less. It’s hard to describe. I could tell you that I was the only Protestant there (I was.) And the youngest by a few decades (I was.) I could tell you that the retreat center was right on the ocean in Gloucester, so all day long I could hear the sounds of waves and birds (that’s true.) Though perhaps the best way to describe the time away is using the phrase my Spiritual Director (a Roman Catholic Sister) told me during our first session, “Remember, Lauren, you’re on holiday with God.” And that’s what this retreat was—being on holiday with God.
On our last morning before we all went back to our lives outside Eastern Point, a man whispered to me before Mass (as the rule of silence began to relax a little that final morning), “Did you have a good retreat?”
“I did, it was amazing,” I responded.
“Good, good. Well if I can give you some advice, the key is to not lose the peace you feel in your heart. The world is just crazy. And trust me, I know because I’m a crazy Irishman! But I just focus on keeping the peace I feel here with me and that always helps.”
I smiled and thanked him for the advice. I just love that. One of the topics I had been contemplating that week was none other than peace—the peace that comes from Christ. The peace Jesus left with us. We can’t control much of anything these days, and we certainly can’t control other people. But we can control how we respond to what’s happening because that’s where our power lies. That’s how we can feel peace inside of us. And that’s where we can hear those words of Jesus continue to echo in our hearts, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.”
(This Week’s Thoughts 9.17.20)