I hear his coughing from the shadows of my room . . . my toddler has found my bed as a place of refuge. I sit on the edge of the bed and lean in to soothe his coughing fit. He sits up and suddenly the pillowcase and my already unkempt hair are covered in my son’s vomit. It is past midnight and I draw him close trying to quiet the crying. I lift his feverish body with me into the shower. As the water washes over us, I feel completely poured out, drained. This unexpected mess punctuates the end of a busy, chaotic, wild week of celebrations juxtaposed against sickness and myriad unresolved challenges.
I whisper a prayer in the dim light, “Jesus, you are my peace.”
While running back and forth to the pediatrician all week, our family calendar has also been brimming with golden, culminating moments celebrating last days, and hard-won accomplishment as we near the end of school. I feel the ache of the passage of time, along with the weighty, on-going concerns unique to each of my children. Over the past school year my brood aged two to twenty-two years old have been breathtakingly blessed, and have also faced heartbreaking difficulties—physical, social, educational, mental, financial, and faith crises—like a tapestry of light and dark.
In all of this, my motherhood is a path of paradox. The souls I have grown in my womb, the souls I dedicate my life to nourish, encounter realities that I can not fully comprehend or begin to have answers for.
In all of this, what is the divine promise of peace? How is peace possible? How does a mother rest in the promise of peace through it all?
If you ask the world (aka Instagram or Google) how to maintain a sense of peace, the advice sounds sensible enough— “Rid your life of toxic people,” “Get plenty of sleep,” “Single-task instead of multi-task,” “Plant a succulent garden,” “Journal regularly,” “Declutter your life,” “Maintain quiet space.” The advice the world gives for maintaining peace is desirable at face-value, but truly comical–the ingredients for this kind of recipe simply do not exist in my household.
The real issue with the culturally enlightened concept of peace is that by definition it focuses on external elements and does not address the internal nature. It does not admit that our own souls, our own children’s souls, are in need of a reconciling source of saving peace. Nor does an external view uncover the spiritual opportunity in this sacred call of motherhood.
What calling brings us to our knees like this? We are empty and poured out again and again, aching for the transformative peace given by the lover of our souls–Jesus. In God’s plan, he designed the passionate, Christ-like nature of motherhood to invite us to receive the true spirit of peace.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims, “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn 14:27).
What is this kind of peace the world wants but cannot give? It is freedom from fear and rest for our souls in the midst of all of our circumstances in the journey from season to season. This gift of peace is divinely designed to be internalized by the power of the Holy Spirit, allowing Jesus to become our real prince of peace now and forever.