My soul is at peace. I haven’t written those words very many times in my life, because for most of my life, it simply was not true. But it is today, and I’ve experienced a growing awareness of that deep, inner peace for the past several weeks. (Oddly enough, the keenest awareness has developed and intensified since early March, just about the time we started the Gathering for Worship in the Liturgical Tradition.)
When I say my soul is at peace, I don’t mean I’ve lost all awareness of the tumult in the world around me. I don’t mean that I have ceased to care. Peace is not apathy. In many ways, I care more about the things that really matter than I ever have.
But I’m not overwhelmed by them. I am more hopeful than I have been for years, and it has nothing to do with my circumstances. In many ways, my circumstances could overwhelm me, especially if I were to spend much time thinking about my prospects for the future, economically and materially. Truth is, I am surprised that I am not disheartened.
It was not that long ago that I imagined myself to be under a burden of discouragement and gloom from which I thought I would never be free. Then, in the midst of my despair, I sensed I should write the story of my life and faith pilgrimage, using Arthur Lough as my alter ego. I did. It took a year, from initial concept to publication. The Long Road From Highland Springs: A Faith Odyssey came out last August. It changed my life. Funny that. Writing the story of my life changed my life.
From the day I held the first copy of the book in my hands, I have not been able to feel sorry for myself again. Long Road is a testimony to the faithfulness of God. There is no way I can encourage people to read my story and, at the same time, allow myself to wallow in self-pity.
I started writing the book when I was at a very low place. Nearly two years later, I have reached a thin place in my faith walk—a place where the curtain between me and the divine presence is more translucent, no longer opaque.
My doubts are not all resolved, but that doesn’t scare me. I am absolutely certain of far less than I used to be, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve become aware of the irony, the inconsistency, of demanding certainty as a foundation for faith. And my faith, at one time so meticulously and systematically constructed on a frame of theological complexity, has been essentially reduced to a simple two-fold concept: Love God; love others.
“Come to me,”Jesus said. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I hear you, Lord, for what seems like the first time in my life. And that strikes me as really, really good news. News worth sharing.
Yes, my soul is at peace.