wordsout by Godfrey Rust                                       BREAKING THE CHAINS 30 of 61  HOME    


Balance

Peace

We say It is peaceful,
but this is not peace.
This is just the absence of noise. 
Somewhere noise goes on—
in the ambulance sirens,
in the sweat-shops in Asia,
in the veins of the addict,
in the minds of the wrongly-imprisoned
and the mother of the cot-death baby
the noise goes on but we don't hear it. 
Our ears are plugged
with the wax of self-importance
so we say It is peaceful,
but it is not God's peace.
This is the peace the world gives
and its real name is pride.

We say We live at peace,
but this is not peace.
This is just the absence of war. 
Somewhere war goes on—
in parts of America,
across much of Africa,
in the streets of Baghdad
and the dark estates of London
the war goes on but we don't see it. 
We have turned our eyes away
because it won't happen here,
so we say We live at peace,
but it is not God's peace.
This is the peace the world gives
and its real name is indifference.

We say He is at peace,
but this is not peace.
This is just the absence of life. 
Somewhere life goes on—
in the house he never owned,
in the job he almost finished,
in the children he meant to talk to,
in the wife he failed to love,
in the father he couldn't remember
and the mother he wouldn't forgive
life goes on but he doesn't live it,
so we say He is at peace,
but it is not God's peace.
This is the peace the world gives
and its real name is death.

The peace of God
is nothing like this. 
It is more like noise. 
It is more like war. 
It is more like life.

The peace of God
is like the peace of the tightrope walker
balancing a hundred feet above Niagara Falls.

It is in the peace of the cancer patient
for whom treatment is no longer prescribed. 

It is in the peace
in the quiet moment
after the fatal road accident. 

It is in the peace
of a ruined, liberated city. 

It is in the peace
at the centre of the whirlwind
that tears the island to pieces. 

It is in the peace
at the opening of the gates
of Auschwitz. 

It is the peace of the man
who has lost everything
so has nothing else to lose. 

It is the peace of Stephen
as the first stones bruise his body 

It is the peace of Gethsemane,
saying Nevertheless your will be done. 

It is the peace of the carpenter
as he steadies his hammer
for the last blow on the nail. 

It is the peace of the women
on their necessary business
in the desolate dawn.


A meditation for a service at St John's, West Ealing during Lent in March 1991.