What’s one of your favorite words? One I especially adore, and have a tat of, is “shalom”. While this Hebrew word is typically translated “peace”, it also means wholeness, unity, and harmony. It’s basically shorthand for “everything as it should be”. Powerful stuff. Along those lines, I recall in seminary talking about the collective shalom brought by people who are a kind, nonreactive, and un-anxious presence. In a world that encourages overreactions, fosters fears, amplifies anxieties, and promotes divisions, I remember thinking this way of being is both what we need, and who I want to be.
In my Christian tradition we have a practice called “Passing the Peace”, wherein people shake hands, or hug, while saying “peace be with you”. I share this because it highlights how shalom is not only a shared and communal energy, but, like wine, peace is an acquired taste we learn and become bit-by-bit. Over time we become passers of peace by making small, doable decisions to be kind, nonreactive, and un-anxious. What is more, as we choose to “hit” an aggravating person with curious instead of biting words, to let a spider live instead of killing it, to believe the best about a person who’s dumb driving is slowing us down, and so on, we discover peace is a beautiful force that naturally flows through and from us into others.
I believe at all levels of relationships, kind, nonreactive, and un-anxious presences are the healing medicine that will soothe our souls and unite our spirits. So, today I invite us to practice passing peace by making easy and natural, yet unusual for us, choices be, feel, and spread shalom.
Grace and peace,