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Tuesday
Oct182011

Peace is a grasshopper

16 years ago I was asked to give a talk on the subject of peace and the family. I don't remember much of the details now, in fact none. What I do remember is the weekend prior to this that my husband and I took our family down to Seaside Oregon for a late fall visit to the beach. I was pregnant with our daughter Katy and she was soon to arrive, Brian had just opened his Law Practice doors, and I was also leaving my job where I had spent my days the last twelve years to begin my work as a full time mom. I needed the beach. I had been asked to speak on a topic that I wasn't really "feeling". Everything about my life at the time was in transition and uncomfortable. I was great at my job, in fact they would have to hire two people to replace me. I was comfortable there, I was the expert. At home full time with four children...what was I thinking??

Strange that I remember the day we drove South so vividly. I remember the sprinkling of rain on the windshield and the gray clouds in front of us on the highway. As I was watching them the wind blew open a gap through which I could see that behind the clouds there was a bright blue sky, and although I could not see the sun, there was a distinct golden ribbon of light along the edge of the opening. I wondered if that was what people meant by a "silver lining" in the clouds, and I felt my hope renewed that the weather might cooperate with us. That maybe this was the right road to be traveling. It was a quiet drive, the kids slept most of the way down, I spent most of the time pondering my talk on peace and wondering why it was so elusive in my own life. Peace had been sitting next to me in the car but I hadn't even really acknowledged it's presence I was so caught up in all my thinking.

We stopped at a rest area/boat launch when the kids woke up. My husband walked the three kids down to check out the boats coming in and out of the Columbia River. In the distance I could see that they were all running around chasing something in the grass. Then I could tell that my son, the oldest, definitely had something he was running up the hill to show me. Please don't let it be a snake. As he got closer I could not see anything at all in his hands, but the girls were so excited running next to him. I knew there was definitely some great prize he carried.

When they reached me at the top of the hill, a good three hundred yards from where they started, perched on the back of Taylor's hand was a single grasshopper. There he was in all his glory, light brown, spindly legs, beady eyes looking right at me. They were all out of breath and talking at the same time about how they had been trying to catch them... and then this one simply jumped onto Taylor's hand. The truly amazing part though was that it remained perched there for the entire bumpy journey up the hill from the boat launch. None of them could believe it. Brian and I couldn't either. Time to set him free and finish our drive.

I thought about this grasshopper for at least a year after that day. I considered how peace was like that grasshopper - very difficult to catch, not likely to live long in a cage, and most joyfully experienced hopping freely about an open field. Why did it seem to rest with some so easily, just as that little hopper did with my son? Why with even the best effort did it remain just out of the reach of those who wanted to "catch it", and hold on to it? I didn't have any of the answers, but I did a lot of research on the subject. I even told an old man once - he was a writer - that I had a great title for a book, "Peace is a Grasshopper". He laughed and told me that all good writers have many great titles for books - its the content that they're missing. He was right of course.

That was the beginning of my personal pursuit of Peace. Pursuing anything is a lot work. And thus the idea is that anything worth pursuing should be worth the effort extended. I took a minute to look up the definition of Pursuing (better make sure of my word choice now that it is out there for the world to see...) This is what I came up with:


  1. To follow in an effort to overtake or capture; chase:

  2. To strive to gain or accomplish:  

  3. To proceed along the course of; follow:

  4. To carry further; advance:

  5. To be engaged in

  6. To court:


Yep. That's the right word. Now that I have that settled in my mind, it is time to consider if it is worth the effort. I mean that in all sincerity. Is it worth the effort? To go into this "pursuit" you must ask yourself this question. The mistake that is often made is to think that it is easy. Two years ago I was snuggling with my 17 year old daughter. She had just recently given birth to a beautiful little girl of her own. Her new baby was sleeping next to us. She asked me, "When we were little and you would hold us, did you ever look at us and think...this one is going to grow up and total the family car... this ones going to grow up and yell at me she hates me and I'm ruining her life...and this one is going to grow up and get pregnant in high school...?" I laughed out loud. In that moment I loved her more than ever. Nope. That's not what you think. Life is not easy...but definitely worth the effort when Peace is present. Each of those experiences, and many more than I can count in addition, have been journeys of discovery as I have pursued Peace along the way.

 

Peace is more like a river you walk along side of than a glass of water you drink and are done with. I will be honest with you, most people around you don't think it's worth the effort at all. If you can't catch it and keep it in a cage for future use as needed - why work at the pursuit? True...simple conversations about Peace will not deliver it to your doorstep. But Peace knows your voice...recognizes who you are when calling it's name...and it always hops over for a look see. Easy to walk by that little grasshopper - if your not looking for it in the tall grass.

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Reader Comments (1)

Lovely, lovely. That grasshopper was foreordained to be at ease in the palm of a child, so you, also foreordained, could record and have repeated his message of peace.
Can't wait to tell this story (with your permission of course.) Thanks, Jack

November 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjack jenkins

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