Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. (Luke 10:5-6)
Emud shouted in my direction as he stumbled up the steps to his front door, juggling a package in one arm and his two-year old daughter in the other. I didn’t understand him but thought I heard the Arabic word for peace, salaam, through his accent.
“Peace to you,” I shouted back, and he smiled. I’d misunderstood him.
He was trying to tell me his wife had given birth to their third child. A son had joined his two gorgeous little girls who grace the world just by walking across the lawn ... and picking my flowers.
Emud beamed, juggled the black-haired angel in his arms and went into the house. I returned to the dirt in my flowerbed, feeling something I wish I could switch on anytime I needed it.
Today is one of those days I wish I had that switch. But maybe I do. Maybe we all do.
Maybe it is as simple as savoring the beauty of children. Maybe it is misunderstanding your neighbor and giving him and yourself exactly what we all most need, a taste of what the entire world needs.
Maybe it is writing these simple, utterly inadequate words and realizing for the umpteenth time that the world is filled with glory and that glory is the Love who arises within us whenever we share a joy or a sorrow and exchange a single word, peace.
I remember when “sharing the peace” was introduced ... or reintroduced ... into Christian liturgies after centuries of its absence. Some found it intrusive, an interruption of their prayer and contemplation.
Loving time for silence, I understand this, but for me it is a sacrament of Love’s living presence, a joyous celebration of giving each other what we cannot give ourselves.
The blessed irony of peace is that the moment you give it away you find it in yourself—and learn how to live with your neighbor in this crazy world.
I hope I see Emud again today. I know exactly what I’ll say. “Peace to you, Emud. I look forward to seeing your son.”
David L. Miller