The Very Definition of Peace

The Very Definition of Peace

by Nancy Peacock

“I remember about 5 years ago lying in bed late one night pondering what would be the hardest two things that could ever happen to me. There were of course a number of things on the list but the two things that were my strongest fears were:

1. Harold dying

2. Me having to go through chemotherapy.

The night that Harold went to heaven I settled into bed realizing that I had a choice I knew I had to make. Either I continue my practice of kneeling beside my bed and looking back over my day and seeing and recording the God-gifts within that day OR I give in to the misery of the hardest blow I’ve ever received and leave that practice behind.

My addled brain was saying “How can you give thanks on this day when you kissed the cool lips of your beloved husband for the very last time? The day when you knew you would never again see the face you could hardly drag your eyes from, so dear, so familiar, so improved by time and age?”

A battle ensued and the tiny voice of the Spirit that I’ve come to recognize whispered:

“This will be the vehicle for My presence as you go through what lies ahead. Bring Me your weakness, your brokenness. I will catch every tear, I will listen to every anguished question, I will heal your fractured heart and give you peace. The only part you have to do is to remember that thanksgiving always comes before the miracle.”

And so my mind ran back over the day and I wrote many things that filled me with thankfulness. Some were: Mercy was with me when I got the hospital call (and was still with me, sleeping on our couch), close friends rushed to the hospital, food began arriving, Gwen was travelling from Brownfield to spend several days, and people took over so many of the details and decisions that had to be made at a time when I seemed incapable of forming an intelligent thought.

And that began a practice I now cling to where I spend time with God nightly. I have recorded over 5,500 blessings since August 4, 2015 and my journal is a living testament to the goodness of God as He weaves colour, texture, and beauty (mostly through his people) into the tapestry of my life.

Fast forward to August 2017, a time when I began to realize that I was feeling things I hadn’t in a very long time. I was feeling more energy, more excitement about things, pleasures returned that had long seemed suppressed. And I recognized the faithfulness of what God promised me on that loneliest dark night of my soul. I had merely found things within my daily life to praise and thank him for, He took my brokenness, my weaknesses and became my strength and my peace. No self effort, no bootstraps were required. He was not a demanding army sergeant He was the most tender and true Abba.

Two weeks after this realization I got a recall appointment on my yearly mammogram.

As I trudge through the various phases and procedures of breast cancer I find there are not so many new lessons for me in how to cope. True, I do not like this process, not one small bit! But I have had my brain and heart rewired this past 2.5 years and I continue to daily see God’s presence, peace and yes, even joy almost daily during this cancer saga. People are hungry to discover those who do not ask “why me” but look for bigger, deeper questions. I have had many opportunities not afforded me before Harold’s death and my cancer. People who do not know Jesus want to know why I can respond as I have, and I’ve had boldness and opportunity to share my walk with Jesus with them. They wonder why I’m not angry that all these hard things have happened to me and our kids.

But the beautiful secret is that the opportunity for God to be the closest He will ever be to us is when we are struggling, wounded, discouraged, despairing or mourning. And doesn’t that describe everybody here. We will all walk through some type of previously unimaginable suffering. Some may lose a child, maybe a marriage will not survive, parents will age and suffer, a beloved spouse will die, and tragedies will happen. It is all the reality of living in this wounded world. But you have my word on this… there is no problem or heartache bigger than the God who promises to inhabit it. The criteria to experience this is to exchange your brokenness, your weakness for the beautiful gift of acknowledging the mysteriously simple gifts that He provides daily.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

In conclusion I’d like to say that I no longer entertain thoughts of lists of the worst things that could happen to me. 🙂 Not because I fear that more may happen, but because my worst fears have been realized and Jesus has brought me beautifully through the roughest, darkest times I could have imagined. I no longer fear the “what ifs”. I know there will be more struggles ahead but in the face of that I can truly say I experience His peace and joy no matter what circumstance swirls around me.

And isn’t that the very definition of peace?”

Nancy Peacock is a long time friend, mother, sister, hospitable giver, widow, and among the most articulate people I know.

For more on Peace & Joy, see “Restless for the Place I Belong.”

For a little more about Harold, Nancy’s late husband and my old friend, see “Now and Then.”

For more on Gratitude, see “Thanksgiving: The Harvest of Gratitude.”

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The Two as One, The One as Two


Joseph    by Burke Sperling

No one said it would be like this!
What ever happened to
     The two shall be come one?

Each day she
What the hell!
     Is it a bastard?
Should I divorce her quietly?
Yet no…
I’ve been charged to watch over, love and protect
This Holy offering.

Each day she
Each day I watch her swell
And expand – seeming to grow
Out of herself –
– Yet still remaining.

Maybe I could draw forth an offspring of mine own
Like some Greek god of old – but no,
A child born out of jealously or spite
     Is but ugly like Hera’s Hephaestus.

Each day she
How can I not but love her?

God shine your light on me that I
May bring forth life,
That the one may become two.

Written by Burke Sperling: father, friend, teacher, mentor, poet and more than meets the eye.

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More like Mary


Pregnant     by Burke Sperling

I dreamt the other night
– You were pregnant.

This is the second time now…
The odd thing though is
I was deeply stirred.
     Aroused by the curve
Of your belly,
The swell of your breasts,
Your glow.

You are like Zeus or Hera
Bearing a child out of yourself…
But no –
     More like Mary; you have
Had deity shine upon you –
Blessing has
Been conceived

I’m in awe as I daily
Watch this seed
Grow and take shape
     Within you.

Sometimes frustrating,
You see only the burden
     You fear the unknown,
          You feel the unworthiness
               You are lost in what will be…

Other times the excitement of
     New birth
          New life, and
               New dreams
     As you radiate hope.

Drawn to you,
I am awakened by your vitality
Your muliebrity.

     You are woman,
          You are a new Eve.

Written by Burke Sperling: father, friend, teacher, mentor, poet and more than meets the eye.

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These “howling shrieks” are to be contemplated as we consider the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25).

Here is Recluseangel‘s artful “scream” against the abuse:


Howling shrieks rouse the midnight hour

“Her wounds” awaken to the tune of a different serenade…
Effortlessly down the stairs she glides,

“Her wounds” cry a melancholic strain

The music plays …

She gladly makes new wounds of resilience

They spew from their mouths liquid ruby

The music plays…

As the night grows on he drinks her poison

Never did she look so inviting

“All along my ghost has cradled you to sleep ”

“I’ll calm your raging sea and balm your wounds”

“The wait was long but now I shall love, dues have been paid” …

With tired eyes she looks at him and lulls their gaping mouths

“Let the music play”she says

His ghost cradles her back to sleep

Her wounds go on another night to awaken to the tune of a different serenade…

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The Art of Vengeance

Shalom, Makoto Fujimara

“Art goes to where words cannot reach.”
James Romaine

This reminded me something Odysseas Elytis said so long ago (note: “Wanting to be Heard“):

The lack of synchronicity between nature and man caused the lack of synchronicity between body and soul.  When the nightingale isn’t heard, the Molotov cocktail is.

What do Molotov cocktails say? I was reminded of something in “Do we get what we deserve” when Charlie Hebdo was attacked in January 2015.

I don’t think people groups [we might consider] our enemy “deserve” disrespectful satire, any more than I think Hebdo’s satirical provocations deserved this terrorist response. But for the intolerant, terror is the only utensil in their toolkit that reaches places argument cannot; surely terrorism is a hammer continually looking for a nail.

I wondered about how “for the intolerant, terror is the only utensil in their toolkit that reaches places argument cannot.”  Depending how you look at it, is this the same as: “art goes to where words cannot reach”?

The Art of Self-Destruction

In Romaine’s interview with artist Erica Downer, she comments on her sculptured works of art:

My work often has wires or other sharp things that protrude like weapons that keep the viewer at a certain distance… I think that speaks to how we are self-destructive… I am working on some pieces that resemble maces or clubs. But the way the pieces are constructed, they hurt the user as much as the they hurt the person being clubbed. Furthermore, using these clubs will destroy them as well because, while they are sharp, they are also delicate. They are much like us in that way.

From “Objects of Grace: Conversations on Creativity and Faith,” by James Romaine.

“Art goes to where words cannot reach.”

Artist Albert Pedulla observed the way art has a way of penetrating our culture that arguments d0 not; he says,

I think what is interesting about mystery, about the spiritual, is that it penetrates your rational defences. It disarms us.

Art as Prayer

Japanese artist, Makoto Fujimara was the director of the “International Arts Movement” out of New York when he was working on a project called “Art as Prayer.” Having been near the Twin Towers on the day of 9-11, he comments,

What we saw were two “art forms.” The terrorists’ “art” of vengeance contrasted with the heroes of 9-11 whose “art” was their sacrifice… These are two clear opposing ways of creating.

What Art are you creating?

May your creations enjoy the impulse of the Creator:

Who creates and recreates with artistic flare and beauty.

Who restores and replenishes with care and kindness.

Who protects with a fierce love and a mighty motive.

May your art be prayer, and may your prayer be something beautiful for God.

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On Sacrifice

“Over the Top”,

On Sacrifice, by Kelly Davidson

My father was a fighter pilot stationed in Germany during the Cold War. His much older brother, Ken, spent all of WWII as a sailor, clinging to the frozen railing of a Corvette in a convoy of ships in the North Atlantic. Their father, my grandfather, was a gunner with the 10th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery in WWI. All were just teenagers when they enlisted. This was a time in history when nations still considered Christian, were not afraid to call evil: evil. It is not surprising that my grandfather’s Bible is replete with prayers for the Army, Navy, Victory and Peace.

My father recounts his father’s experience in the trenches at Vimy Ridge this way:

Dad along with others in his gun crew, would load and fire their cannon against the enemy trenches and positions almost continually all the while dealing with the constant shelling and mud and rats and all the horrors of that time.

Dad had a very close friend in his crew and the two of them had been together since they enlisted as very young men back in Saskatchewan. On this particular day, April 9, 1917, they were part of the major assault by the Canadian Corps on the German forces dug in on Vimy Ridge and were firing almost continually at the enemy positions prior to the actual attack.

His next memory was waking up on his back in the mud and feeling this terrible weight on his chest and the terrible pain.

After a few moments he realized that someone was lying on top of him and he struggled to roll the body off only to find that it was his best friend, and he was dead. Father was badly wounded with shrapnel in his chest and would later be evacuated, first to a field hospital on the coast of France and then later to a hospital in England.

In the hours and days spent lying in a hospital bed he said he could not escape the realization that had it not been for his friend standing next to him, he probably would have been killed also. This painful truth is something he carried with him for the rest of his life.

In John 15:13-14 we learn from Christ: “No one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” My grandfather, lying critically wounded in the trench in France, weary and troubled in ways we cannot imagine, must have, in that dark place, turned his eyes upon Jesus to look full in His wonderful face. In the context of life and death and eternity, the things of this earth indeed grow strangely dim.

All these gallant men in my family are and were people of faith. They served their country to fight tyranny and the oppressor. They had a high calling, so high in fact, that they were willing to lay down their lives as Christ did for us.

Here in Canada, thanks to the men and women who fought and continue to take a stand against tyranny, we enjoy freedom from occupation, yet still we long for freedom from the oppressor, not just for our lives but for everyone in this broken world.

Thus we pray that God would make us a people zealous for peace and hasten that day when nation shall neither lift up sword against nation nor within nations nor learn war anymore.

In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay. Hebrews 10:37

This fractured world covets your prayers. I will offer up this prayer from my grandfather’s Bible:

Grandfather Patrick Davidson’s well worn Bible

Heavenly Father, ruler of the universe in whose hands are the destinies of this and every nation, we give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy, and for those who laid down their lives to defend them.

Give us the victory over those who would destroy our souls. Teach us your ways so that we might walk in your paths and be more than conquerers through Christ who saves us.

Even though we live in a world of tribulations, we are not fearful and afraid. Thy Son, our Saviour, said, “I have overcome the world; my peace I give unto you.”

Give us this peace we pray. In Jesus holy name, Amen.

 Kelly Davidson is a teacher, lover of literature, disciple of Jesus Christ, life-long learner, and long time friend.

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How we begin to remember

Paul Simon in Africa, 1987.

Under African Skies

by Paul Simon

Joseph’s face was black as night
The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked his days
Under African Skies

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

In early memory
Mission music
Was ringing ‘round my nursery door
I said, “Take this child, Lord
From Tucson, Arizona
Give her the wings to fly through harmony
And she won’t bother you no more”

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

Joseph’s face was black as night
The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes
His path was marked
By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
And he walked the length of his days
Under African Skies

© 1986 Words and Music by Paul Simon

There is such joyful melancholy in these lyrics; the tone, the melody, the lyrics combine to make us want to know this Joseph whose path was marked by the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, and who walk the length of his days under African skies.

We want to know the story of how we begin to remember the powerful pulsing of love through our veins – being caught up in the roots of rhythm and the roots of rhythm remain.

I have a friend who relies on rhythm; sometimes when we worship or pray, he’ll put on jazz in the background to supply some down beat as we up-pray to the God of remembrance and rhythm and pathways under African skies.

For an interesting analysis of this song, go to “Every Single Paul Simon Song.”

To view a live performance, see “Live from Africa, 1987.”

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