With loved ones testing positive, my head reels, and as I often do, search for some story from old columns of mine that can steady my worried mind.
I find one that had long fascinated me; that of an old couple in the Second World War. They lived in London, during the time when Hitler decided to bombard the city everyday. Day after day hundreds of German planes dropped bombs all over the city and flattened building after building. Thousands of people died.
This couple had decided to put their lives into God’s hands years before, even before the war and had lived their lives trusting that God would look after every moment. When the bombs fell, they laughed. They actually laughed and their neighbours wondered whether the effect of the continuous bombing had unsettled them and decided to ask them the cause of their merriment in the face of such danger.
“The same God,” they said, “who looked after us day after day during times of peace is still looking after us during war. God hasn’t changed, why should we?”
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A friend, of mine, sent me another: There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror of peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why? “Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”
And suddenly, in the middle of the pandemic, which has gatecrashed into my home, I see the calm couple in the midst of turbulence, and the bird in the tumultuous waterfall and I begin to have a sense of peace..!
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