Welcome to the second week of Advent… the candle of Peace. Following our theme this year, let me tell you another little story.
In a far, far away land, a wealthy king decided to decorate the hallways of his grand home by holding a contest. He offered a substantial award to the artist who could depict “peace” in a painting. Artists from far and wide got to work. They presented the king with various peaceful renditions: snow-covered fields, baskets of flowers and fruits, children playing, and musical orchestras, but the king settled on two paintings of the kingdom’s nearby mountains.
The first was a painting of the valley’s lake in summer. The lush green mountainside towered over the still, clear water, the mountains reflected back at the beaming sun, disturbed only by the dusting of clouds in the clear blue sky. Wildflowers dotted the mountains. Many of the townspeople thought this was obviously the winner of the contest, for the painting surely exemplified “peace”.
The king mulled it over, appreciating its beauty, but passed it over for the final piece. The second painting was also one of the surrounding mountains and valley lake. Yet, this painting was dark and stormy. The mountains were in the shadows, lit only by a giant lightning bolt. The lake was swirled in a tempest of turbulent waves and whitecaps. No flowers dotted the countryside, only deep forests of fir trees. “This masterpiece will hang in my halls, as it depicts the truest “peace”” declared the king, “Do you see it? Tucked in here, beside the tallest fir tree in the shadows? A simple nest where momma bird sits quietly on her clutch of eggs, protected from the raging storm.”
True peace is when we can find calm despite the noise from the outside world. God-given peace of mind is not affected by the state of one’s surroundings, it comes from our hearts. Sometimes that means changing our perspectives. It was easy to see peace in the first painting of the summer sun. But the king had to look deep into the storm to find the nest. The bird knew she could not change the rain, but she could wait it out. The Holy Spirit helps us see the things we can change and the things we cannot change. He helps us look deep within and find what we need to carry on.
Another thoughtful muse by an unknown author (again adapted by me for you!) to remind us this week, that there are no promises that life will be endless summer days filled with wildflowers. There will be times when God will allow the tempests to rage deep into the shadows of our lives. True peace comes when we tuck ourselves in, knowing that God’s presence will guard and protect us — even in the middle of the storm. Only then are we truly able to shield others from similar storms.
And so, my beloveds, as we walk through this second week of Advent, remember that storms will come!
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.John 14:26,27