"My Peace I Give to You"
Running way too late to make it to my favorite priest’s service, I settled for a church on my way. A place I’ve never been too, but catholic anyway; how different could it be.
I sat in one of the last rows behind a group of 5. Within a few minutes I knew I had made a mistake. The people in front of me were mentally challenged. They chanted, talked, blew their noses and behaved somewhat erratically. One of the 5 seemed to be the group leader and she kept them under surveillance.
I kept thinking of that moment in the service when we offer each other the sign of the peace. I did not want to shake hands with the people in the row before me. I shook my head realizing how petty my thinking was in a house of worship, but I still looked for a way out. Short of standing up and choosing another seat, I didn’t see how I could escape. My anxiety rose.
The priest recited Jesus teachings: “Peace I leave with you, my piece I give you”. I turned to the man next to me and shook his hand, I looked behind me trying to look busy and hopefully skip the group in front of me. The five smiled and hugged each other. One of them turned around, extended her hand to me and warmly said “Merry Christmas. Peace be with you”. There was so much peace and joy in her face, I felt ashamed of myself. I took her hand and replied Merry Christmas. The other four extended their hands with the same expression in their faces. I smiled and shook their hands.
There I was, the full use of my mental capabilities used to judge others and those mentally challenged were teaching me a lesson, a lesson of humbleness, peace, and appreciation.
I closed my eyes then and prayed for that peace we are urged to give to others in a handshake to invade me. For the judgment deserved or undeserved that surrounds me to dissipate, for the softening of my own heart and that of others.
The service was the same as any other Sunday service, but I was different. This time five people showed me what peace is all about. This time I learned something.
Peace to all.
3 years ago