My husband and I were walking in the November, Coloradan foothills the other weekend when we decided to make our hike a contemplative space for us both. We took a minute to decide on a topic that we’d ponder: we chose peace. Then we took 5 minutes of silence while looking at- and walking through the landscape to wonder about what the Holy Spirit had to show us about ‘peace’ in this specific space.
You have to get an idea of the landscape we’re walking through. If you’re not familiar with the landscape of the foothills near Denver… they’re a dry, grassy, rocky entry to the majestic, evergreen wildness that lay behind them. It’s getting more and more rare to see green in the city and other places in the valley as we dive deeper into Fall, but the green is definitely gone in the foothills. We walked on a dirt trail winding through the yellow grass. Where we were (on a table-top-like mesa overlooking the Denver skyline), the wind gets so strong that the grass doesn’t grow taller than a few inches. The landscape is similar to that of the high country beyond the evergreen tree line. The earth is dark with rocks poking up for air often. Our 360-degree view was shades of yellow, tan, brown and gray. It’s Fall in this harsh landscape, but there’s a beauty in it. There’s a beauty in this Fall landscape that is as gorgeous as it is harsh… if we’ll see it.
During our 5 minutes of silence, I was bowled over by this thought…
What if peace is as strong and audacious as beauty is?
What if peace isn’t as passive as we assume it to be?
What if peace is aggressive like beauty is? Beauty demands that we notice… it grabs your attention and sings to your mind to acknowledge it… but we have to open our eyes—we have to surrender.
Even in the hibernation season, this landscape was awe-inspiring. The way the rock juts out of the earth, making us ants walking on granite ridges… the way we could see for miles over the flat valley that holds its own beauty of rolling grass and wind through reeds… the way things turn red in Fall… leaves accenting the tan of grass and brown of earth.
The landscape demanded our attention, demanded our surrender to it’s utter vivaciousness and aesthetic wonder.
I’ve always had this understanding that peace is this passive, way-down-deep thing, this tiny, barely there stream of a thing. I’ve always understood that peace is a kernel hidden somewhere and that we must work to grasp it… then forcefully sink our souls into it. When I’m attempting to find peace in my daily anxiety, I mentally stop myself, and attempt to sink deep and deeper still into this stagnant, quiet, and kind of mousy thing.
I think I’ve been wrong all along.
I think true peace is exclamatory. I think peace is wild and wonderful. I think peace is aggressive in its pursuit of us. We just have to ‘look’ as we do to beauty. Like the landscape, I think peace is all around us, we just have to open our souls to it. I think it’s always pursuing us, we just have to submit. It’s easy to submit to the frenetic… because it’s closest to our face… but it seems there may be a reason that peace is likened to a river.
Maybe it’s just my current season, but I need peace to be powerful and aggressive. I need peace to fight and win over the frenetic nature of the ‘busy’ life. I’ll be spending my days this season looking for the ways peace breaks through the noise.