Pax Vobiscum (Special Reprint Feature)

Today is the International Day of Peace. Allow me to share with you one of my few surviving essays from my teenage years. Shalom. Peace, such a beautiful world. A thing of beauty, though unseen, felt, by innermost soul. An idea, abstract perhaps, but like the highest peak of a mountain, it is there. To be reached by the mind, to be grasped, like a shining prize, by the heart. Peace I have known, brief moments in time, they glimmer like fireflies on a moonlit night. But to man, starved for truth, a morsel, alas, is not enough. There is more to this world, in our lives, than mammon’s lot There are to be served higher purposes – justice, truth, beauty, love, charity, hope, peace. Not the peace of the desert. There is solitude, but only wilderness. Not to commune with nature but to grapple with temptation. The battle of good and evil, we are told, is ultimately won – and lost, in the hearts of men. Not the peace of the graveyard. Hollowed ground, but surrounded by death. But death comes to all of us, The Dark Shrouded One to reap the harvest of souls. To slay, indiscriminately, whether a prince or a pauper, for, in the end, all of us are indeed, created equal. There are of course, meditations to be heard when alone, surrounded by the tombs of the departed. To know death is to love life, for only can the value of something be known – when it has been lost. Our time on earth is but a spark in the blinding light of infinity. A man can live, to change the world perhaps, to conquer kingdoms, to rally a million men, or live like a leper, reviled unwanted, hated. For at the consummation of a life, a man may be deemed worthy to dwell in the isle of the Blest, or be unmourned, forgotten, to die like a dog. And all shall cross the dark river of Styx, on Charon’s boat, to the other side. What is in there? Eternal twilight? Paradise, Purgatorio or Inferno? The Comedia of Dante – a comedy? For is not that was God perceived to be, among other things, a jester? Did He not made a deal between Satan for Job’s soul? God – as Faust? Insufferable torture Job was thus punished. For his faith? For his obedience? But Job, like Paul and Daniel, fought the good fight. Job’s faith was strong, unmovable like the rock of Gibraltar. In the end, Job regained his place in the folds of so-called decent man. No longer was he defeated, but welcomed back to society, the same society that treated him in the past with utter revulsion. For, in God’s cruel joke, the people saw in Job their own worst fears for their own lives. And the wicked, no doubt, celebrated the fall of a just man. To have peace, some say, is to prepare for war. For only in eternal vigilance can peace, like freedom, be defended. For peace to grow, like a lovely flower, the soil must be nourished by the blood of the martyrs. To the altar of peace, worthy offerings are the lives of the brave, the just and the righteous. The cries and lamentations of the widows and orphans shall pass, as all things pass, but a hero’s sacrifice shall remain forever. There is peace in moments of serendipity: A beautiful sunset, a perfect shell on a beach, a kiss from a child. Beautiful moments I have found, and peace I have known and known well, not like my shadow, my constant companion perhaps, but rather like a bird in the window. To alight, to sing, to delight, but only for a moment – then flies away. There is finally, divine peace, where God’s chosen are made to see His grace, visions of heavenly beauty. For, in the moment of death, a vision opens the eyes of the soul to all those things beyond understanding. Only then can a life can be crowned with glories no earthly kingdom can bestow. For it is to know heaven, to hear the angels’ chorus, to be welcomed by the saints. Above all, it is to know God and say, ‘I have fought the good fight and I have come home!’ That, my friend, is real peace. And Peace be with you