One of my essential values in life is peace. I do not prefer conflict, either internal or external, and at times have gone to extremes to avoid a conflict. As I have lived more of life, though, I have learned that this passive existence tends to backfire or at least be counter-productive. Sometimes the road to peace has twists and bumps that, sadly, need to be traversed.
About peace, the Bible says: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NIV). It also says, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3:10 – 11) These verses appear to substantiate my experience that living peacefully may require action I would prefer to avoid.
I often like to start and end my day at the beach, and as the seasons chill this usually finds me sitting in my parked car sipping a coffee and staring out at the scenery thinking my thoughts. I was sitting in this precise manner one day after work, still in my work clothes, feeling tired and grungy and allowing the tension to literally ebb from my body one pore at a time. On this afternoon, the scenery was spectacular. Autumn was upon us in all its colourful glory. The lake was a deep slate navy meeting a spectacularly royal sky. The greens in the grass shone in streaks of emerald and evergreen, and the leaves pulsed in colours ranging from copper to pumpkin. I sat in my car drinking it in relishing this scene of peace as it settled upon me, when suddenly my subconscious picked up on an interesting detail.
Although the scene was deeply peaceful, it was also very active. The leaves were rustling in the wind, the lake was tossing, the clouds were rolling in for the night. The scene was actually one of very active flux.
“Peace is not static.“
The thought registered sideways on my senses.
How many times had I sought out peace at this very location without making that connection?
“Peace requires action,” I thought, “A life of peace requires a commitment to actively seeking peace instead of expecting peace to just happen as if magically drifting in on a breeze.”
Like the scene unfolding before my eyes, peacefulness was not necessarily the place of resting I’d always understood it to be. Rather, peace contained and sustained motion, existing even where action did not cease. I’d always thought I’d recharge myself with peace that I might function in less peaceful environments. Now, rather, I saw that peace could be harvested within the moment of action itself. Motion did not detract from peacefulness.
These thoughts became deeply meaningful to me as I mused upon them with frequency in the following days. If I value peace and wish to live a harmonic life, now I know that this action stems from an inward commitment. Because peace is active rather than static, I can indeed ‘pursue’ peace.