Peace, even on harried Mondays

It started with the dreams, muddled and confused as the chiming of an ill timed alarm broke into them. The world outside was dark and still, with only the faintest rumbles of the city coming back to life. A truck slid on its way up the snow covered drive from the parking lot, tires failing to grip the icy asphalt so cold and uncaring.

And then, in the kitchen, with breakfast on the stove and a half packed bag, waiting for clothes and books beside the lunch of last week’s tacos. Barefeet pacing back and forth, and the knock on the door; apologies for running late and further rush as I went between rooms, gathering, discarding, chewing half cooked oatmeal and wishing for more time.

Finals week descends upon the seminary like a slow and creeping illness. We saw it from a distance but the advance was crushingly fast when it came overthe last hill and hurtled upon us. He has six papers due by Friday, I have two for Wednesday and she is scrambling for three presentations. There is ice on the ground and we’re skating uncontrolled through the end of the semester, hoping to finish strong, praying for good grades and earth shifting revelation amid blue books and scantrons.half cooked oatmeal and wishing for more time.

E is working late, pulling longer shifts of deconstruction, tearing down shelves, cabinets and wall paper. He lives before the sun arrives and watches her retreat long before returning home to dinner and fevered study-time on the couch. For it’s finals week and I’ve picked up extra hours at work, I’m walking home through frosted night and scrounging time to memorize dueteronomistic history, shades of free will and latin phrases we inherited from an ancient mother hidden in cathedrals  and far off lands. There’ll be roast chicken for dinner, crisp and lush, brined and finished in the crock pot—the miracle worker of women who work and cook from scratch. And there will be cider to keep awake in the black night of study.

It’s the fourth week of Advent; we’ve met God the Father, Holy Spirit, Hope and now we’re to find peace, sense it and know it the way I know the darkness of my soul. But we’re pushing to buy a truck in 21 days, send out jam and Christmas cards, thank yous and wedding gifts. I’m barely functioning somedays, always sluggish and torn in too many directions. The shock of bitter cold December tears at my lungs on the walk to and from school. The kitchen is piled high in crusted dishes, there are clothes on the floor and hair in the bathroom sink.  There’s war in the world, strife in our homes and stress in our lives. I’m to know peace, but in the midst of this?

Yes. In the midst of this.

In the freezing walk beneath brilliant stars.
In the moment of encouragement as the door closes and the professor prays over students about to be examined.
In the meals of free ingredients from the local food pantry.
In the warmth of my quilts as I shut my eyes to the mess and climb wearily into bed.
In the love of arms about me, in the fleeting moments we have together.
In the hope of the future, in the remembrance of the past, despite fear and stress of the present.

Peace, in all this, and more—so much, so all pervading that it cannot be described or exhausted.

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.

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