I was walking in a dark valley and above me the tops of the hills had caught the morning light.
I heard the light singing as it went among the grassblades and the leaves.
I waded upward through the shadow until my head emerged, my shoulders were mantled with the light,
And my whole body came up out of the darkness, and stood on the shore of the day.~Wendell Berry (From the poem Returning in Wendell Berry New collected Poems)
One of my favorite things is to imagine myself ascending a staircase. When I reach the top, I find a balcony with a chair where I can sit and think or pray. Be still. The sky is taut and blue overhead. Perhaps a glittering, light-filled sea threads the horizon. I can stay for a while.
I have stairs in my house, and my writing office is situated in a little corner of the room. I can see the sky from my window. I like to imagine that I can see the ocean.
While in my safe alcove, I read and pray. Meditate. In Psalm 34:14 I read Make peace your motto. Practice being at peace with everyone. Then the footnote in The Passion Translation.
"Twice the Hebrew uses the word shalom. This word means much more than peace. It means wholeness, wellness, well-being, safe, happy, friendly, favor, completeness, to make peace, peace offering, secure, to prosper, to be victorious, to be content, tranquil, quiet, and restful. The pictographic symbols for the word shalom read 'Destroy the authority that binds to chaos.' The noun shalom is derived from the verbal root shalam, which means 'to restore,' in the sense of replacing or providing what is needed in order to make someone or something whole and complete. So shalom is used to describe those who have been provided all that is needed to be whole and complete and break off all authority that would attempt to bind us to chaos."
As a child, I liked climbing the stairs to the balcony at church. I wasn't old enough to understand the sermons preached by the minister, but I sat in the pew nestled between my parents and looked out over the rows and rows of people. I counted rectangles in the stained glass, sunlight pouring through the red, gold, blue and purple panes depicting Jesus carrying a lamb across His shoulders. Perhaps this location is where I first began to experience shalom, where I felt the beauty of God's peace releasing me from chaos.
Peace I leave to 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 be afraid.~John 14:27 (New International Version)
Shalom to each of you.