Hello God,

What a year, huh? I’m sure you’re swamped with prayers and petitions. I’ve come so many times, asking for guidance I need, answers to the same old questions, for forgiveness I probably don’t deserve. I’ve asked for intervention in the lives of people I love and for you to help me be strong, kind and wise. But here I am again with my hand stretched out.

What is it I need now? It’s peace I’m after. And to tell you the truth, I’m not even sure I understand what that means. However, I’m pretty sure I know what peace is not. It isn’t never being troubled or having things go my way. Peace is not a goal, an achievement or a prize. It’s not something I can make happen no matter how many classes I attend, how many books I read, or how hard I meditate.

These days, I hear lots of pithy sayings about peace. It’s every step you take. It’s the space between the breaths. It’s our true essence. I kind of get all that on one level, but actually, if someone asked me to explain how peace is the space between the breaths, I’d have to make something up and hope I sound smart.

In church, I’ve heard the words, “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding.” So, I guess it’s okay that I don’t understand it since whoever said that obviously didn’t. Peace isn’t something we can get with our minds anyway, now is it? Hmmm, is it possible that it’s really just a state of being? Being okay no matter what’s going on around me, like a boat with a deep rudder that can ride out the storm? But if I have to wait until the storms pass and the water is smooth to be at peace, then I’m going to be waiting a long time. And at this stage in my life, I don’t have that kind of time.

Now, here’s a thought. Maybe peace is giving up trying to figure out what peace is, to quit pursuing it, and to stop feeling bad about myself because I’m not as peaceful as I think I ought to be. In other words, being okay no matter what’s going on inside me. Being peaceful even when I’m not peaceful? Now, that is definitely a peace that surpasses all understanding.

I like it, God. Thanks for the chat. I didn’t have much hope that I’d leave feeling so satisfied, but what is hope anyway? I’ll be back another day and we can work through that one. For now, I’m good.

This piece, edited for length, appears in the December 2020 issue of O.Henry magazine in their feature article, “Prayers of the People.”
© Marilyn Wolf