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There is a longing for peace in the human heart, a peace, as St. Augustine discovered, which can only ultimately be satisfied by the Creator.
There are a variety of synonyms for peace: harmony, serenity, tranquility, silence, stillness. Serenity suggests dignity, composure and graciousness; tranquility implies having a healthy command of one’s emotions perhaps because a strong faith keeps one unagitated even in the midst of turmoil. Consider the first stanza of a Japanese version of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd” –
                        The Lord is my pace setter.  I shall not rush,
                        He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals.
                        He provides me with images of stillness
                        Which restore my serenity.
As a way of focusing ourselves on the New Year, here is my “Gift of Peace” wish list:
*  Take some quality time each day when I let myself be aware of a Power greater than
*  The discipline to spend more time with my family during the New Year.
*  The courage to be an instrument of peace, at home and at work, seeking 
   understanding, unity, and reconciliation above all other considerations.
I am indebted to Pastor and poet, Steve Garnaas-Holmes, for the following prayer, one, it seems to me, to be well suited to the beginning of a new year. *
            God of Love, take our hearts and change them.
            Take what is rough in us and let it become gentle.
            Take our fear and let it become wonder.
            Take our anger and let it become sorrow.
            Take our grief and let it become compassion.
            Take our discouragement and let it become acceptance.
            Take our doubt and let it become courage.
            Take our hurt and let it become forgiveness.
            Take our not knowing and let it become faith.
            Take our self-centeredness and let it become love.
            Take our broken hearts and let them become our strength.
            Take our lives and let them become yours.
•     He is pastor of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Acton, Massachusetts.

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