Grant Us Thy Peace: Advent Meditation, 12/3/2012
By: Hillary Raining
Last summer, I was blessed to take a pilgrimage to a holy little island off the coast of Wales, named Bardsey. I traveled there with a group of fellow doctoral students who ventured to study Celtic spirituality through the model of the monastery that was established on the island in the 5th century. There we endeavored to live as the monks of that time would have – no electricity, no running water, and no heat. But the hallmark of the trip was the way we kept the ancient monastic hours of daily prayer. We would join every day for Morning Prayer, Mass, Noon Day Prayers, Evening Prayer, and Compline before engaging in Holy Silence until the following morning’s gathering. This prayer became our chief work on the island, which had the effect of breaking into the rest of the time we had to do all the chores.
We had only been on the island for a day when a mini-war broke out in our group. The journey to the rock had been long and arduous, and many in our group began to feel worn out and put-upon by the rest of the assembly and the circumstances we now found ourselves in. Patience was lost, fractions were felt, and peace began to erode.
It was then I decided to wash one of the few pairs of socks that I was allowed to bring. I took up my wash basin and went to fetch some rain water and found myself at the foot of the island’s mountain. Without telling anyone, I dropped my socks and started to climb up the steep face of the mountain, which was being drenched in rain.
Perhaps it was the vigorous climb, but when I reached the summit, I found that the fight had left me. I knew that we could not live this way for the rest of our time together, and asked God to instruct me in the path of peace.
I then looked down and in the rocky face of this mountain was a small pool of water. At first, I assumed that this was just a little puddle and absent-mindedly tossed pebble into it, which immediately dropped from my sight. Upon further investigation, which included a series of ever-lengthen probing sticks, I concluded that this must be a very vast little well. So vast, in fact, that I could not know the depth of it.
It struck me that this little pool was in fact a sign of the incarnation of Jesus, whose arrival we prepare for in Advent. Jesus comes to us as the Prince of Peace and the True Living Water. That he would chose to live with us warring people to show us the way of peace is a vast mystery that points to a love that we can never know the depth of. Yet, in the face of that love, we must chose to also bring his peace to the world, beginning with those we are in communion with. We are all pilgrims on this path of peace, and Jesus walks ahead of us to show us the way.
Thus, I climbed back down, ready to face dirty socks and warring souls, ready to walk in the light of that peace.
Dona nobis pacem. (Grant us thy peace.)