“I joined the Navy to serve my country, and I just don’t feel like I’m doing that while sitting in a submarine in dry-dock.” That’s what our son said to my husband and me just before announcing that he had decided to volunteer to join an Army unit in Iraq.
I knew that this powerful peace could strengthen and ease the hearts of all in harm’s way.
Since his announcement was made a few years ago when the conflict in Iraq was near its height, our pride over our son’s selfless decision was mixed with a good dose of concern for his safety. Before we knew it, his several weeks of special training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina were completed, and our son was off to “the desert.”
As mothers of soldiers throughout history have undoubtedly done, I found myself turning to God in prayer on a daily basis in order to find a sense of peace. I was immediately calmed by the words of Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of this magazine. Her poem “Satisfied” (Poems, p. 79) begins with these words:
It matters not what be thy lot,
So Love doth guide;
For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,
As I prayed for a true understanding of the meaning of “pure peace,” it occurred to me that peace is not so much an absence of conflict as the presence of a powerful force for good; the presence of God.
While looking up references on “peace” in the Bible, I discovered the following verse from Isaiah: “O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river” (48:18). I began to think about how powerful a river can be. After all, the Colorado River had carved out the entire Grand Canyon! This power, which moves anything in its path and alters landscapes, hints at the power of that peace that is the presence of an all-good God. I could envision this force for good flowing through all the world, including those areas wracked by war. I felt such comfort knowing that our son, and all military personnel and civilians in Iraq, could sense this powerful, peaceful presence of God’s goodness. In the face of loneliness, exhaustion, or even abject fear, I knew that this powerful peace could strengthen and ease the hearts of all in harm’s way.
As you can imagine, we were delighted to have our son return to us unharmed after six months in Iraq. We were also truly grateful to hear that no one in his unit was killed during his time over there. I continue to affirm, on a regular basis, that “peace … as a river” is comforting and supporting everyone in war-torn areas throughout the world. In the words of Hymn No. 276 in the Christian Science Hymnal, I love to think of “peace, that floweth as a river / From th’ eternal source alone” (Charles Wesley).
Lynne Cook lives in Brookeville, Maryland.