I married into a Catholic family. My husband was not much of a churchgoer when we met so I’ve only attended a handful of services over the dozen years we’ve been together. A wedding here, a baptism there, a rare holiday when we’re all gathered. Whenever I’m in a church, I am aware of my residual discomfort with organized religion, so I sit and do my best to listen to what’s happening under the words and formalities that are second nature to those who’ve practiced them for a lifetime.
My favorite moment is always when the priest utters the words, Peace be with you, and the entire congregation responds, And also with you.
This year I’ve tried on a new practice of consciously blessing those who tug on my heartstrings (or my judgement, or my jealousy) the moment I feel the pull. It helps me remember that we are each responsible for our own journey and that the universe is abundant, even if it doesn’t always look that way on the surface. I’ve experimented with different words, from a simple, “Bless you” to a lengthy wish, listing everything I can think of that I hope for that person.
This week I’m trying on the simplicity of “Peace be with you” because it is what I deeply wish for all of us. If success brings you peace, I wish it for you. If love brings you peace, I wish it for you. If roaming the streets with all of your belongings brings you peace then I bless you in that and if it doesn’t, I wish for you to find what does.
This doesn’t absolve me of responsibility to make the world a better place. It doesn’t mean I will stop sponsoring a little girl in Haiti or micro-lending through Kiva or standing up for the change I wish to see. But it does help my heart hurt less when there’s nothing I can do to “fix” someone’s circumstances. It helps me remember that I wouldn’t trade my life or my problems for another’s, even if she seems more successful, more pulled-together or better able to juggle the demands of motherhood and business than I.
And so on this warm October morning, as I listen to the waves and wonder what the week has in store, I put my hand on my heart and send my wish out to the world…
Peace be with you
then I gently turn it around and with deep reverence, wish it for myself…
and also with you.
May we all find our moments of peace this week.