This week's verse is Doctrine and Covenants 19:23 Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.
Peace is an elusive thing these days. There's war in the world, frenzy at work, and chaos at home. I crave one tiny, green corner where I can put my head down and sit in absolute stillness.
I once took a theology class at the U of T where we students were each given a copy of a psalm and told to go into a private portion of the classroom and read it, in whatever manner we wished, for about fifteen minutes. Just read it over and over, or meditate over one phrase of it, aloud or in silence, sitting or standing, whatever we preferred. I found myself dovening, rocking gently back and forth in rhythm with the words, and over one phrase in particular about there being no peace in the world. The room was filled with hushed murmurs, and you could almost feel the collective power of thought going on around me. After fifteen minutes of pondering this psalm, I had quiet tears rolling down my cheeks, and the thought came to me that if we could get the whole world to stop and dwell on that particular psalm for just a few minutes, it would bring peace to the world. The earth is made up of individuals, and if each stopped to really soak up that thought, that would be the end of strife, at least for a moment.
I used to sort of think it a bit useless for people to tuck themselves away in monasteries isolated from the rest of society and spend their time in meditation and prayer. I mean, there is so much need in the world, and wouldn't their efforts be better spent manning soup kitchens and distributing medical care...? Well, that class changed my perspective. Yes, there is a need for some people to do those things. But there is also an equally important need for a part of the population to generate thoughts of positivity and peace and send them out into the universe. There is something powerful, almost tangible about it. If we could direct that kind of power into the world, it would change things. That contribution has just as important a place as any other kind of service. And ultimately, I think prayer probably has a longer-lasting impact on the individual soul than a bowl of soup. Though, it can be argued, you can't think of things of the heart when your stomach is empty.
Can the collective yearning of an entire community of people cause a shift in the world at large? Can it batter at the doors of heaven and provoke God to action? Can thoughts occurring on one side of the world affect things happening on the other side of it? (Well, I suppose [she says wryly] nowadays it would all be on Twitter and launched into the ether for the whole world to access it, anyway!) Maybe that is how the Second Coming will happen -- we'll all watch it on YouTube, with live coverage on CNN.
I have re-read the entire book of psalms and hunted and hunted for that particular phrase over the years since that class, but I've never found it. Either my professor made it up, or it was such a different translation that I don't recognize it among King James's phraseology. I wish I could find it again.