St. John’s Baptist Church

Worship | Sundays @ 10:30am

December 16, 2020: The Unexpected Gift of Peace

December 16, 2020

The Unexpected Gift of Peace

By Sara Vavra

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

This scripture reminds me of a time when I did not know my heart was troubled, or how badly I needed God’s peace, and yet God came to me, in the shape of a middle-aged nurse from Ohio who happened to be the teacher at a continuing education program I was attending. She was the one who brought me this unexpected gift of peace. A few years ago, my massage therapist friend, Lisa, and I were attending a continuing education program at a lovely retreat center in Chatham County. During our second day, Lisa called the teacher over for help on a technique. The teacher shared a few tips and then demonstrated by placing her hand over the center of my chest and very gently, but firmly, directing that pressure towards my heart center. Everything seemed fine until suddenly, out of the blue, I was overcome with emotion and started to cry. At first, my tears were polite, stoic tears, barely noticeable to anyone else in the room. I struggled desperately to control myself, but they would not stop. Soon my chest was heaving and shuddering with waves of unexpected emotion, and big, fat tears poured out of my eyes, streaming down my face. I was so embarrassed. Where was this coming from? I wondered, still trying to make it stop. Eventually, I gave in, and let whatever it was that was happening, happen. After a while, the sobbing stopped and my tears dried and I was filled with a sense of lightness and ease. Our teacher stayed with me throughout this strange event, her hand resting gently on my heart center until it was clear that I was well. And I was well. I was at peace. I have thought a lot about that experience over the years and wondered what it all meant. My teacher was not a good friend or trusted advisor, and I didn’t attend the course with any deep existential angst. And yet something extraordinary happened. My teacher became God’s vessel to allow great healing in my heart. All the things I had buried deep in my center, things I thought I had resolved, and things and things I no longer have a conscious memory of, were pulled up and out of me, freeing me from the heaviness that had been hurting my heart. My soul responded to this great kindness, this great maternal love, and was able to let go until I was left with nothing but love and deep peace, cradled in God’s hands. Exercise: Remembering that our hearts are always in God’s hands, take a moment today to place your hands on your heart center. Notice how your chest lifts up into your hands as you breathe in, and how it falls as you let the breath out. After a few breaths, pray to let go of all the things you want to let go of, all your worries, your fears, your losses, your loneliness, deep sadness, envy, anger, grief. Things you know you have inside your heart and the things you don’t know you still hold there. Pray to let them go, with each exhalation, letting go. And then, after a little while, pray to bring in God’s peace, God’s love, God’s joy, God’s grace with each in-breath. Letting go of the things that close your heart to God’s peace as you let the breath out, and drawing in all the gifts God has for you, with each in-breath. Breathing in and breathing out. May you find God’s peace in your life today.