Peace and a Friend.

As someone who lives with anxiety, the word “peace” (maybe ironically) holds a special place in my heart.

I remember being an intern at Sanctuary Ministries back in 2013. I was very new to community building, friendship based ministry, walking alongside so many people I had never met, deconstructing my faith… I was making some friends in the community but it is a thing that takes time, as with many friendships. I was always so nervous before our big community dinners on Thursday nights. On my way to sanctuary on the subway I would say, “Oh God, please give me peace and a friend. Amen” over and over and over until I got to work. I know He granted me the things I asked for.

I’ve uttered this prayer so many times. On one of my first weeks at The Dale, I was sitting with Erinn and Joanna in the quiet of the room we used to hold our breakfast drop-in at, before anyone arrived. We were sitting together in a corner of the sunlit room, praying together – a tradition I was still new to. I was very nervous, about another drop in where I didn’t know many people, about being new to this role, about praying in front of my new co workers. When it was my turn I offered up the only prayer I could think of – “God, please give me peace and a friend.” I received these things in abundance.

On Sunday afternoons at The Dale service, we take time after opening with singing together to offer each other peace. Erinn says, “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” And we say back, “and also with you.” And then those of us who can get up do so, and we walk around offering each other peace, looking one another in the eyes, and giving a hug, elbow bump, wave or peace sign.

I have tried to understand that peace is not just a simple emotion to feel. I think it really is a peace that comes from the Lord, as Erinn says every week. I feel it when I pray to God and ask him for peace inside. I feel it when I remember to regularly take my anxiety medication. I feel it when I greet my community on Sunday in peace and receive it back from them in abundance. I feel it when I’m camping with Ian and watching Charlotte smell the flowers and when I listen to a song I like. It is a deep sense of contentment in my heart and soul that God puts there for me.

Sometimes, it is hard to feel. Sometimes I am reaching for it and it’s not there. Sometimes there is worry and trouble inside. That’s okay. Not everyday will be filled with deep peace. That is when I can practice looking for Hope from God that peace will return. I can practice the art of receiving it from others. Peace comes in many forms.

I got this tattoo today, one that I have been wanting for some time. I got it on the back of my arm above my elbow: a place that I can’t see easily but I know is there. A place that others will see and receive.

So as always, peace to you this week. I leave you with that farewell every blog for a reason. I really do hope you can receive my peace, given through God. And if you don’t just yet, that’s okay. I pray for hope.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. In order to do this work I must fundraise money for my salary. If you would like to financially support my work, please leave me a message at meagan.gillard@gmail.com.

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