Do you check Facebook on the loo? Or fight the bad piggies by flinging angry bird heads at their precarious houses? Life throws us endless chances for distractions, and before the advent of the ever-present smartphone the loo was one of the places I was actually just with… me. Time to think. Time to process. Time for… peace.
Peace. A little word with so many meanings, so much promise and yet so elusive to find. We can find peace if we use the right shampoo, or meditate for half an hour, or spend a day at a health spa or in the loo. Or send the kids away. Or something other than live our normal lives.
Jesus promises us something far deeper, far richer than that kind of ‘inner peace’, snatched in a half hour of calm. He promises a peace that cannot be bought or earned by saying the right mantra or doing the right number of good turns. A peace that is given as a gift. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let you hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” This peace is Jewish idea of Shalom – a truly holistic, affirming peace when all is as God intended; when we are at peace with God, with each other and – yes – even with ourselves.
Being at peace with ourselves is one our cultures deepest black holes. Shallowness is prized, sensory overload is a given. Being able to be in our own heads without constantly feeding ourselves with peace-denying distractions? A radical thought. Count how many minutes you are free from music, TV, Facebook, emails, BBM, phone, angry birds…
I know when I’m not at peace with myself when I find constant distractions. Music on, Facebook on. Playing Angry Birds on the loo? What’s that all about. Whilst we cannot earn or buy peace, we can help ourselves in receiving it. Giving ourselves peace-time, instead of actively starving ourselves, can only help. It doesn’t mean quiet. But there’s no point inviting the Spirit of peace to live in us if we never give him time to say anything to us, or do anything in us.
When we do, he will speak to us, he will change us. That is a challenge. Maybe that’s why we find so many reasons to avoid him.
I’m off to play Angry Birds…