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Peace Be With You

I grew up in a Catholic home. That means giving up something you can’t possibly live without during Lent. Not eating meat on Fridays during the same season. Memorizing the ten commandments and eight beatitudes, consciously choosing to live by them. Attending mass every Sunday and Holy Day throughout the calendar year.

It’s the last one that I want to home in on. I have to admit, it became a rote thing as a child. Wake up, eat breakfast, shower, go to church. It was also nice to look forward to our family brunch at a local diner or a visit to the bowling alley afterwards. The responses during the service came easily from memory, repeating them every Sunday. But it’s what happened after The Lord’s Prayer that came to me with a fresh set of eyes while laying sleepless in bed the other night.

Peace be with you. Those are the words shared between the priest and other members of the congregation. You look to your left, right, in front of, and behind you, reaching out to shake your hand with others, sharing those same words: peace be with you.

It’s amazing to me how sometimes thoughts separated by decades can somehow be connected in the most unsuspecting ways. The song Holding On And Letting Go by Ross Copperman has the following lyrics:

It’s everything you wanted It’s everything you don’t It’s one door swinging open And one door swinging closed Some prayers find an answer Some prayers never know We’re holding on and letting go

That connection between prayers and the rote exchange as a part of Catholic mass really hit home. We’re literally holding on and letting go when we shake another person’s hand, in that order. And I find some hopeful optimism in the lyrics too. Notice how one door swinging open precedes the one door swinging closed, as if there’s a new opportunity waiting before the current one is closed off to us.

We’re all holding on and letting go. People, jobs, relationships, ideas, beliefs, opinions, hands. Some of us know which one we need to do at any given time. Others are lost. And perhaps we’re all in both of these positions at some point during every day of our lives. Whether we’re holding on, letting go, avoiding both, or doing neither, for whatever reason. Those same words and all the compassion layered between them comes flooding back to me, and they’re words I want to share with you.

Peace be with you.


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