Peace is ...

Not if I have anything to do with it ...

Just before the New Year, a friend handed me a note that said, 'Peace is boring!' I laughed out loud, which, of course, brought me some attention. What's so funny? When I stopped laughing, I told them. He said peace is boring. It is? Yeah, well, it can be.
     Peace is boring. It often is, without a doubt, the singularly most boring routine of the day. Actually, it can be more than boring and on top of that, a lot of us think of peace not only as boring but as unattainable as well. So, why bother? What's the point? People will continue to annihilate one another and treat the other person as gum on the bottom of their shoes. Peace. Not my cup of tea!
     Hey, as a peacemaker, the only way Jesus could get a crowd was to do some magic first. Everybody knows that Gandhi had to practically starve himself to get any kind of attention. Oh, and King--he had to create some entertainment for the FBI. Peacemakers have to create their own schtick in order to get noticed. I've been studying peacemakers for a while and I am convinced that in order to join the ranks of real peacemakers, you better have an act--something to grab those war mongers' attention. Rosa Parks decided not to give her seat up to a white male. Peace Pilgrim walked until her shoes had holes in them. And now me--I'm making fun of all of them. Believe me, it ain't easy either. See, there are those of us who want the easy peace. You know: that kind of peace; the peace where everyone gets along and sings Kumbaya. So, tell me--when's the last time you sat around the camp fire singing that song? Long pause. That's what I thought.
     Then there are those of us who feel like we're living peacefully until a conflict starts. Hey, peacemaker, the definition of peace is not--I repeat--not the absence of conflict. We're gonna get dirty and we're gonna get frustrated. In fact, we're going to get angry and we're going to handle it poorly. Things like forgiveness and reconciliation take lots and lots of practice. You gotta start somewhere. Why not go looking for a fight? You have to get your practice in somehow.
     Let me tell you what I've learned about peace. It was a lesson I learned from a girl named Terry Shaw. We were both in the 7th grade and our gym teacher thought it would be fun for the girls to learn wrestling moves. Now at age 12 I was already a 6 footer. Yeah, got called the Jolly Green Giant until I graduated, but hey--I digress. Anyway, no one wanted to wrestle me. Go figure. Just because I was taller than everyone, too. But, Terry Shaw, probably no bigger than 5' 3" (and I'm stretching the facts) said that she would wrestle me. Everyone laughed at her. Including me! The teacher asked, "You sure, Terry?" Terry just smiled and nodded her head.
    Well, we got in our positions on the opposite ends of the mat. Terry smiled again and it kind of made me angry. I didn't want to hurt her. She choose this. I was gonna hurt her and then I decided that I would make it quick. I took two steps towards Terry with my goal in sight. Terry waited and then quickly took 2 steps backwards as I headed for her, grabbed the end of the mat and flipped it! Yeah, you guessed it. My legs went up and I came crashing back on the floor. Terry wasn't through. With a yell that I can still hear, she soared through the air with the greatest of ease and landed on me. Yes sirree.
     Now, I know that this took probably two minutes, but I see this event happening in slow motion. I can now testify that the bigger they are--well, the harder we fall. With the wind knocked out of me and Terry lying across my chest and abdomen, the teacher fell to the floor and counted "1-2-oh, by the way, Terry, this doesn't really count-3"! By this time stunned faces broke into grins and laughter, including me. Terry got up, reached down and helped me to my feet. Know what I did? I threw my arms around her and hugged her. That was definitely not a boring lesson.
    What did I learn? Never wrestle with short people? No, that wasn't the lesson. The lesson for me was never take anything for granted. That thing about size? Well, bigger don't mean better and certainly doesn't mean that I had the right to win. I learned that there are things like winning and losing, but that losing doesn't have to hurt so much (or for long anyway). I gained a new respect for Terry. She wasn't trying to hurt me. There were plenty of mats on the floor and we had all been taught how to fall. Okay, so she gave me a little nudge that wasn't quite fair, but hey, I told you guys in the first of this wacky peacemaking series that life isn't always fair. The teacher had fun. I had fun. Terry had fun and won! No one ever looked at her the same.
     I guess that I'm saying that we should lighten up and by all means, have some fun! Peace doesn't have to be boring. Stay around long enough and you'll see!


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