The Point is Peace

A Christmas Day Personal Reflection

Emperor Augustus decreed that all the world should be registered. Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be registered with Mary, who was expecting a child. While there, she gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2.1, 4-7; abridged)

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I’m an innkeeper. I stand at the door of my life choosing what and who to let in and keep out. The food I eat. The places I go. The people I meet and with whom I associate. The thoughts I contemplate. The feelings I embrace. The memories I entertain. The words I say. The deeds I do.

I’m also an emperor. Daily, decreeing that a census be taken, I count. Blessings. Troubles. Opportunities. Obstacles. Commitments. Appointments. Time. Money.

I wonder. Do the things that I let into my life and count as valuable mirror who I am? Ideally, yes. Harmony among being, belief, and behavior is a sign of personal authenticity and integrity. Nevertheless, sometimes I choose poorly and count badly. What I let in and what I claim as important do not correspond to the self I perceive me to be.

And, often enough, in the pressurized, split-second timing of daily living, I deal with whatever comes first. Thus, like an innkeeper, who, following the rule of “first come-first served”, has no room, I, caught in the clutches of circumstance, relinquish my power to choose.[1]

On this Christmas Day, I celebrate Jesus, “the heaven-born Prince of Peace,”[2] who, for me, signifies a reunion of earth and heaven, a reconciliation of what is and what is meant to be. Yes, for the world, yet also for me…

Christmas means that I am to be at peace; no longer estranged from my self. That my choices of what I let into my life and count as important match who I am. That there is constancy in what I think and feel, then say and do.

Do…will I ever get it right? Completely? No. As human, I’m consistent in my inconsistency. But that’s not the point. What matters is whether I’m mindful that peace is the point and, thus, my choosing and counting proclaim whether I’m in harmony with God, myself, others, and, indeed, the universe.

© 2022 PRA


[1] This life’s matter of making choices, for me, is not (is never!) as simple as I may seem to suggest. For, sometimes, indeed, often enough, the most needful matter is not the most meaningful. Moreover, sometimes, what separates urgency and importance is only a slight difference in the shade of significance.

[2] From the carol, Hark! the herald angels sing (1739), Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Illustrations: Innkeeper (c. 1660), Julius Caesar statue

#JesusthePrinceofPeace #peace #inwardandoutwardharmony

4 thoughts on “The Point is Peace

  1. Thank you Paul for this PERFECT Christmas reflection. I had such a peaceful Christmas and I chose what I was willing to do, and NOT DO on that day. I spent the morning with Kim and Kendal to open our small gifts and have breakfast. I had not planned on going to church with them but decided to at the last minute and was glad that I did. The bulk of the day I intended to spend with Kris and her family, their first Christmas without Bobby and mine without my Mom. I couldn’t have asked for better and our afternoon, evening and dinner together was truly special!

    Your reflection reminded me that leading up to Christmas I felt as if I was doing some things that WERE NOT ME! As you know I was in Costa Rica with Kim and Kendal for 10 days. On Dec 19 we arrived at our last of three locations where we would spend four nights. As soon as we drove up I felt as I was in an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, a category I definitely AM NOT IN. The incredible lobby of the resort was literally outside underneath this large wooden canopy. I was wearing a pair of Walmart shorts while the woman standing next to me was likely wearing a pair of $5,000 sunglasses. I didn’t select the locations where we stayed but I truly felt out of place, AND that I was overindulging while there were so many people in that country and in ours who don’t even have enough to eat. But I carried on. I didn’t even post any photos of the location because I felt it was a bit too much and outside of the values that I hold dear. In any case, we did have a great time there in the pools and the restaurants but being there really gave me pause. All of the staff was phenomenal there and treated everyone equally but it was clearly designed for people with lots of money which would leave so many people out who could really use a rest and rejuvenation in their luxury accommodations. One of the nights we stayed there I dreamed that I had won the lottery and brought 2,000 caregivers to stay at the resort for a week. Too bad it was a dream.

    I’m glad we get to choose where we go and what we do that gives us peace. The first two places we stayed were also very nice but not too over the top. I was able to relax and feel at peace there. Those are the types of Inns I’ll be visiting in 2023 where I can find peace and help bring peace to others.

    Much love.

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  2. Loretta, I love this reflection of yours. Your awareness of where you were — being out of place because of the opulence of your surroundings — yet being able to relish the experience is a model for me of how to approach life. For, at times, none of us can govern where we are and how (or whether) to embrace the moment. Yet, for many of us, blessedly, the choice is ours. (For I think of countless others — those who are impoverished or who are refugees or who are incarcerated, whether at the hands of the law or the fates of cruel caprice — who have little to no choice of where or when or how.) And you, tho’ keenly sensitive to the incongruous juxtaposition of yourself (indeed, your self) and the place, were able and willing to partake of the richness (literally and figuratively) of the moment. Brava!

    Love

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  3. Yes!! I focused on the richness of the moment!! And it felt GREAT!!

    Like

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