The Upper Room of Easter has often intrigued me. What was like to be huddled together? What was going through the minds of the clan which were together? Were they sharing stories? Lost in grief? Hopefully holding onto words from the past? Were they praying? Were they quiet? Were they tired of each other?
Then I paused for a moment and said, “Wait a minute? Is this not our situation right now with the pandemic?” We too our huddled in our “upper rooms” with thoughts and prayers and frustrations and worries and exhaustion and hopes containing us. We really aren’t much different from the disciples on that first Easter morning as we wait for the word that will “set us free” from our captivity.
What will that word be?
“Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” John 20.19
Peace be with you. A simple phrase we often take for granted. A simple phrase that we often mumble out at church. A simple phrase which transformed the containment and the grief of the disciples into joy and filled them with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Can we let this phrase, this prayer, this promise transform us?
Are we willing to let the power of the peace of Christ penetrate the upper rooms of our isolation? Our places of fear and loneliness that we have come to know well over these last weeks? Our letting go of what was and our worries about the future? It is not easy to do; it is much easier to brush aside this gift of peace and stay contained by what now feels comfortable even if it is an uneasy comfort.
Over the course of this past week peace has come and gone in my days. Worry has sometimes been very ripe and obscuring the joy of peace. Distractions have been easier to deal with then the transformation that peace offers. Doubt, like that of Thomas, has very slowly strolled through my mind leaving me stuck in the mud of it. I have had to ask my self: where I am finding peace; this peace which the Risen Christ has promised me?
It is in forcing myself to pause and realize that besides hand-washing and proper public health precautions none of this in my hands. It is stopping each day to acknowledge that the day will come and go and I too will move through the day. It is being quiet enough in prayer which allows me to go to the upper room of my heart and remember that transformation is happening there. It is in the gift of music which lifts my soul. It is in the power of movement – pounding my feet into the earth as I walk – releasing from within me the burdens I carry. This is where I am finding the peace. It is arising in me, it is the peace in simply being, sitting in the upper room and being okay that this is where I am to be for now. For I know that I to will be sent again (and maybe even in new and different ways (hmm… again sounds like the disciples)) and what will I need to carry with me?
Our world needs me now to be and will need me and all of us to be bearers of peace with each step into transformed, new realities. How can we foster that peace in this time of being in our upper rooms? Are we willing to be transformed or do we just want back our old ways? Our we willing to risk the peace of simply being? As Thich Nhat Hanh says: “Our time is first of all for us to be. To be what? To be alive, to be peaceful, to be joyful, to be loving. And that is what the word needs most.” Yes, this is indeed what our world needs for this is the work of “Peace be with you” now in our upper rooms and when these doors are flung open.
My Lord and My God,
fill me with the promise of the Resurrection,
that the peace you give and breathe into me
may transform my heart now
as I dwell in my own upper room
so I may carry this peace with me
into our fragile world.
Where are you finding peace?
Easter Peace to bless you.