Peace is the consciousness of God’s presence and power, which are everywhere and for all time. It isn’t just the absence of turmoil. True and enduring spiritual peace is a powerful condition, and is always available to us. It cuts through superficial, material perceptions and enables us to think and pray clearly. Whether we are thinking about our own particular situation or about our families, friends, churches, government, or the world, we can be confident that the underlying spiritual reality for every one of us points to peace.
I once had a compelling lesson about the spiritual nature of peace during a sailing vacation with my husband. While we were on land, my husband and I went for a run. Suddenly we found ourselves closely pursued by a vicious-looking watchdog. As we leaped over a wide hedge to get away, I fell, wrenching my back. I was in a lot of pain, and my husband lovingly prayed with me as we made our way back to the boat.
The need for healing was urgent. In a few hours, we were to make an overnight crossing in what were expected to be extremely strong winds—potentially treacherous conditions. Plus, we had a deadline to meet. My husband felt prepared for these conditions and confident that our boat was sturdy enough for heavy winds and waves. But I was pretty scared about how I could find healing during the long night watches in the midst of hazardous winds and heavy seas.
However, I knew something about my spiritual nature—my actual spiritual identity as God’s reflection, untouched by injury. I wanted to experience the healing that comes from trusting God, instead of being impressed by physical conditions, such as my back and the weather. So I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray for me. I was very grateful that I was able to reach him right away, and that he was ready to give me Christian Science treatment.
I began to see that the peace of God was ever present and ever active.
Two simple concepts buoyed me during the night. One: Even though the waves and wind did not relent, I felt clearer and clearer that God was right there, present with me and with everyone I thought of, everywhere. With this simple, growing conviction, the fear lessened. Two: I began to see that the peace of God was also ever present and ever active. Peace is never variable, because it’s the perpetual state of divine Mind, God. What the physical senses were presenting didn’t reflect the enduring power of Mind, but represented a view of life as mortal and vulnerable.
Christian Science teaches that God is Life, and that He is reflected as each of us. Our spiritual status is entirely good and at peace. “The individuality of man is no less tangible because it is spiritual and because his life is not at the mercy of matter,” writes Mary Baker Eddy. “The understanding of his spiritual individuality makes man more real, more formidable in truth, and enables him to conquer sin, disease, and death” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 317). Seeing ourselves this way releases us from the limiting concept of being trapped in physical bodies in potentially frightening circumstances.
The sense of spiritual peace remained with me, even when we encountered 15-foot seas in our 35–foot boat. These conditions, known in the area as a “rage,” had no power to harm us or interrupt our prayer. So many verses of hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal came to thought, providing assurance of God’s presence and the confidence to tackle fear. Here are a few:
And o’er earth’s troubled, angry sea
I see Christ walk,
And come to me, and tenderly,
(Mary Baker Eddy, No. 253)
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm.
(John Greenleaf Whittier, No. 49)
It matters not what be thy lot,
So Love doth guide;
For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,
(Mary Baker Eddy, No. 160)
During one of my watch periods while my husband was asleep, I looked around at the surging sea and stopped seeing it as a threat in our lonely isolation out of sight of land. Instead, I began to see the waves as friends, as amicable aids to our progress, pushing us encouragingly along in the right direction—as waves of peace. The image of eternally renewing “waves” of messages from God totally lifted my spirits, showing me that I was safe and loved and always at peace. I was able to sleep for a bit, and I awoke completely free of the back pain. It was just gone. What’s more, I was free of fear of the conditions around us. I felt at peace in an entirely new way, realizing that I could demonstrate fearlessness right in the middle of any scary or troubling situation.
Peace is never variable, because it’s the perpetual state of divine Mind, God.
When Jesus walked on the water in stormy nighttime conditions on the Sea of Galilee (see Matthew 14:22–32), he was utterly undisturbed, entirely peaceful, untouched by the tumult of the sea. His communion with God ensured that nothing could disturb him. In fact, he reassured the disciples when he saw how afraid they were, saying “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” What a compassionate thing to do!
Christ, our consciousness of God’s omnipotent goodness, calms every “sea” we encounter. It stills anxiety and heals both mind and body. Just as Jesus assured his disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27), we’re assured of this promise in our lives every day.
Peace is not apathy or sleep—it’s an awake, alert state. We aren’t truly at peace if we’re passively accepting the “winds” and “waves” of mortal experience. We are created to walk with the Christly understanding of spiritual peace, the understanding that destroys fear and brings healing to tumultuous situations.
Each of us has access to peace as an innate, God-given quality. We never feel alone, weak, or afraid when we are conscious of this peace. No matter what stormy challenges are presented to us, we are surrounded by infinite, divine waves of peace.