Moments of peace


7 Dec 2022

Throughout our days and weeks there are little scenes of peace – we just need to recognise them.

There is a moment in the late afternoon when imperceptibly, the day slips into evening, and the night falls. In a garden at that time of fading light, you will sense the settling of the leaves, the folding of flowers, and the birds making last flights across the sky to roost. A quietness is coming. Indoors, the making and sharing of the evening meal awaits. There is the tidying away of the day’s business. It’s time to go home.

The sun sets in glowing gold, and the first star glimmers. Make a wish as you did when you were small. God’s starry universe surrounds us. Breathe softly.

‘And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace…’

Babies and little children bring such joy and love with them. Best of all, they show us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like: for them it’s always Christmas Eve. I watch my little grandson cross a muddy paddock in his yellow raincoat and red gumboots, following his mother and dad along the muddy track. As he reaches a puddle, he stomps in it. He is entirely engaged in his work. Some puddles get two stomps. Others, three. Puddle-stomping is what we’re doing. It’s good to puddle-stomp.

First moment: Spend time being with little ones and learning how to be simple and peaceful

When Mary and Joseph take their baby son to the Temple, they meet two wise elders, Simeon and Anna. The two old ones are filled with joy. Living long blesses us with wisdom, and they can see the future in this little one and bless the little family with full hearts.

When you listen to grandchildren, you hear the love they cherish for the grown-ups in their lives who cuddled and listened to them when they were small, and had the time to cherish them and tell them stories.

The Feast Day of Jesus’ Grandparents, Joachim and Anne, has been declared World Grandparents Day, (Fourth Sunday of July). Pope Francis noted that ‘for many of us, our grandparents cared for us, ever since we were children. Despite lives of hard work and sacrifice, they were never too busy for us, or indifferent to us. They looked at us with care and tender love.’ As God does.

Second moment: Catch up with your grandparents or grandchildren for no reason other than love

Can you remember the title of your first ‘chapter book’? I can. I read it sitting on the stairs on the back porch in the sun. I bless the people who taught me how to read. Although I know there are many ways to experience the peace and joy of reading today, I still love best to settle down in an

armchair with a wonderful book that will sail me away into worlds as yet untravelled. A good book can rescue us from the everyday. It can introduce you to characters you’ll love forever, or inspire you to go off and read more about places and stories you never met before. I’m never lonely if I have a book. It’s my starting point, and my day’s end. Sit in the sunshine and read a book.

Third moment: ‘This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.’

Why is a cup of tea so soothing? Why not coffee? Or water? Would Leunig’s Curly Flat be the same if life were celebrated and its ups and downs shared over a coffee-pot, rather than a Teapot of Consolation? Coffee pots rarely sit on tables in woolly tea-cosies. They are smart and chic. They would not notice the family dog and cat who share the kitchen under the table. Nobody dashes through the busy streets holding a take-away tea. Tea is a gentle drink. It invites reflection. I wonder how many peaceful moments in my life, and how many problems have been shared and resolved around tea-cups?

Fourth moment: Make a cup of tea. Take it with you to your peaceful place. Sip your tea, and let be.

Visit the Christmas crib, and spend time with the Christmas shepherds and angels ‘…all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart.’

The story of the Nativity is lit by stars. The Magi come by starlight, and leave in starlit darkness. Joseph guides his little family to safety by night. Should shadows wake you, remember those journeys, where God, who made the stars and the night, sends angels to guide and guard us, and starlight to comfort us. Breathe gently, and whisper softly.

‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone Lord make me dwell in safety’. Psalm 4:8

Fifth moment: Give thanks and praise and sing alleluia with the Christmas angels for all those blessings in our lives that can’t be wrapped in paper and ribbon.

This article first appeared in Madonna magazine Summer 2022-23 edition.

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