by Erin Weist
Trying to write an article this weekend was difficult. I attended a funeral for a sweet 2-year old, mourning with her family and friends trying to grasp some meaning in this tragedy. I woke Sunday to news of a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, likewise mourning for families and friends of over 4 dozen lives lost. Last week there were more terror-driven deaths in Israel, Iraq and several other places throughout the world. In all probability there will be more tomorrow and the next week and the next. It’s easy to feel burdened by fear or anger or frustration. Pain is like empty calories, it leaves you feeling drained and unfulfilled. So what is the solution? If you’ve spent time around people who feed that pain and are filled with anger, you’ll know that is not the solution. They never have peace and it is heartbreaking. Ultimately, it comes down to my daughter’s Sunday school lesson this week: Blessed are the peacemakers.
We came home from church yesterday and as we sat around the table to eat we started our weekly tradition of sharing what we’d learned in our individual classes. The 6-year old couldn’t remember, the oldest talked for a bit about his lesson, then my daughter piped up, “our lesson was about peacemakers.” I asked if she knew what that meant and she said it meant people who make peace in their home. Her world is still so small, so that was a perfect use of this concept: her biggest influence right now will be with her brothers in her home. She even had a paper from class with the scripture on it that she read to us: “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” (St. Matthew 5:9). What is the appeal of being a peacemaker? Ultimately it is to have peace, and who wouldn’t want that gift in their life?
Often people search for a better house, cooler friends, nicer clothes, and other outward signs of prosperity because they are seeking happiness. But happiness, as most of us who’ve grown up know, doesn’t come from physical trappings. It comes from inner peace, personal fulfillment, setting goals and reaching them. It comes from well-developed interpersonal relationships, from thinking of ourselves less and others more. It comes from seeking peace. If the family who has their 2-year old taken in a tragic drowning tried to feed their pain or anger, that is all they would ever have– more pain and more anger. But I was astounded to instead see a family united, holding each other up through their tears and proclaiming their trust in God. They will find peace because it is what they are seeking. If we seek worldly goods that is what we will find. If we seek resentment or revenge, that is what we will find. But “blessed are the peacemakers” because they will find peace. It is not a delusional hope to say we want peace in the world. It comes one person at a time, seeking peace and finding it. In this case, what one person seeks becomes a blessing to all.