How many times have I said it?
"Peace be with you."
"And also with you."
It occurred to me today that these words from the liturgy are so much more than just words. They are a blessing, and a heartfelt prayer. Made in the image of the God who speaks life in being, who said "Let there be light!" and there was light, our words have power. When we speak peace over each other, we are declaring it to be so. And when we say "amen," we are asking God to let it be so. "This thing we just said, God - this blessing, this wish for peace for our brother, or our sister - please. Let it be so. Let them be at peace." At rest. Healed. Whole. Well. Completely and utterly their ontological selves. Who they were always meant to be.
I haven't always thought about it that way. But it is what we're saying.
The last reading in Beth A. Richardson's The Uncluttered Heart this past week was about being a shalom bringer - the kind of person who brings the fullness of God's peace to people - and I'm pretty sure I met one yesterday.
I tend to steer clear of the holiday crowds, but my laptop bag got swiped last week, and with it (unless it is buried in the untidy-ness of my room) the cable that attaches my camera to the computer. So I went to buy a new one.
An older gentleman, new to the store and a bit overwhelmed by the phone ringing and all the people asking for help, nevertheless went out of his way to help me. After looking everywhere he could think of, he found someone else and asked him about it. "Oh," came the answer. "We don't carry that kind of cable here. You might try this other store." The gentleman who'd been helping me look for the past 5 minutes turned to me and said genuinely, "I'm so sorry. I hope you find one. Thank you so much for your patience." And then he smiled, reached out and touched my shoulder, and wished me a good evening. And he meant it.
I walked away feeling incredibly cared for, and at peace.
Maybe it wasn't a big deal to him. Maybe he's a Christian and behaving that way comes naturally as a result of the work Jesus has done in his heart. Maybe he was simply a kind person. I don't know. But in the middle of a crazy workday, he took the time to see me - not as yet another consumer who needed something, but as a person - and to wish me well.
It mattered. It made a difference to my day. And it made me wonder: how many dozens of opportunities do we have each day to make that kind of a difference, in His Name?
God, make me the kind of person that leaves others feeling that cared for, the kind of person who speaks your peace into the lives of others. Amen.
And friends - may grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2) Amen.