My family is having Christmas week more than Christmas day. We had roast chicken and baked potatoes last night and opened most of our presents, and we've flown into Seattle today so that tomorrow night my sister and I can sing with our old church's youth choir in the 11 PM service. We'll open the rest of the gifts on Christmas day and then have dinner with extended family downtown, then my parents and I will fly home on the 26th (my sister is on a secret mission that requires she stay in the area for a few more days).
My relationship with parts of my extended family is complicated, and all of this travelling and confusion has led to some internal chaos, and so here I am writing about peace while rather stressed. How fun.
A lot of things come to mind with the word "peace". I'm a pacifist-in-training*, so peace is a world where people put aside their differences and choose understanding and imagination over violence. I'm a tall, large-ish woman with some self-esteem issues, so peace is being comfortable with my body as my weight fluctuates. I'm an introvert, so peace is spending time with just my partner or completely alone, when I can take time and recharge after being surrounded by people.
What I do know, whatever image comes to mind, is that peace is not passive.
In this culture, I have to fight for my right to be left alone when I need it.
I have to work hard to train my mind to see my beauty, not my fleshy rolls which make me feel so uncomfortable.
I have to get more creative in my problem-solving when I eliminate violence as an option in confronting or opposing injustice.
Peace is not merely an absence of war and turmoil. It must be a conscious choice made over and over again. It is a hard choice. I believe it's a necessary choice.
Peace is the fourth and final candle on the Advent wreath before Christmas Eve/Day. We've been hoping for a better future, loving our neighbors (and, ideally, our enemies), and finding moments of joy in our lives. Now, we seek peace, and it can be found in hope, love, and joy. Just as you can find joy through hope, love through joy, and hope through love.
Advent is about anticipating the coming of someone who both embodied and taught hope, joy, love, and peace, so that others may do the same, and it would spread until the whole world was enveloped in that active, teeming Goodness.
May the year following this Christmas, and each year following, bring us more hope, more joy, more love, and more peace. Merry Christmas and God bless you all.
*Pacifism requires a certain discipline of thought that I'm working on. If you're interested in pacifism as a specific political choice, check out this interview on Rachel Held Evans' blog.