Thomas Merton wrote, “If you are yourself at peace, then there is at least some peace in the world. Then share your peace with everyone, and everyone will be at peace.” Jesus Christ told his disciples, “My peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your souls be troubled and do not be afraid.” St. Francis of Assisi asked and answered for his devotees the question, “What is it that stands higher than words? Action. What is it that stands higher than action? Silence.” Peace from the Hebrew “shalom” is equivalent to “wholeness.”
If one is to be a healing presence, bringing wholeness into the midst of the suffering of the brokenness and the pain that is the experience of another, that one must know how to ever be in the process of healing themselves, for we are all ever broken in some way. Jesus is referred to as the “Great Physician.” It is he who quoted the ancient proverb, “Physician heal thyself.” What Jesus had to give as a peace might also be understood as a “piece” of wholeness he was able to give because he was ever reconstituting himself in the unbroken wholeness of his Father?
The term “doctor” coming from Latin is equivalent to a teacher. Likewise, the term “physician,” derived from the ancient Latin “physicus,” equals the concept of a physical teacher. Each of us is encouraged to become self-taught healers of self and other-selves – under God. Not independent, as though separate and or above God, but recognizing that God’s instructive anointing upon us requires that we instruct our own souls in the way(s) of peace, i.e., wholeness. Bringing wholeness to my own soul, in the midst of coping with physical brokenness, has become more important to me than any other medicine. I have found that when in the immediacy of any given moment I choose to center myself in the peace of God I am taken hold of by a capacity to swallow my fears and to break the seemingly overwhelming down into manageable challenges – even opportunities.
Additionally, as I realize peace within and project it without, I am compelled to bring a peace/piece of my wholeness to others in places of fear, grief, and/or distress. I am compelled to give away a piece of the undivided wholeness that is God, like a soothing balm to another self. I’ve discovered that in such sharing there is a further enhancement of my own peace experience and it serves as an ongoing inducement to discipline myself to more consistently seek to remain in a state of self-healing under God. Self-healing has come to mean those places and moments in time where I am consciously presenting myself to the presence of God’s unconditional healing love.
Choosing to memorize and regularly reflect upon the following words traditionally attributed to St. Francis of Assisi has proven meaningful in assisting me to better present myself to the healing presence of God. As I present myself I experience a re-commissioning to bring a peace/piece of his wholeness to others.
Lord, let me be an instrument of Thy peace [wholeness].
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not
So much seek to be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
TIM RESIDE is the President of Bright Tomorrows. Tim has completed 108 credit hours of study in Practical Theology, inclusive of 36 hours at the doctoral level, and holds an MA in Practical Theology. Tim has been successfully coping with and overcoming bipolar illness since 1979.