By Luca Badetti
Peace. A state that is both sought after and needed. An image of solace and restoration. A word of harmony and calm. Yet, the reality of peace has been so often idealized and romanticized that it might sometimes be seen as unreachable, as people experience ups and downs and try to find balance across life’s changes.
This past spring, Lay Centre representatives accompanied a group from the University of St. Thomas Texas to Assisi, on the occasion of their trip to Italy for a summer course on Catholic Social Teaching and the Catholic intellectual tradition. The day in Assisi included visits to important sites in the history of Sts Francis and Clare, both town natives whose message of peace has proven to be long-lasting.
The group arrived in Assisi on a sunny weekday morning, which turned overcast as the visit came to an end later in the day. By the time people began to leave, gray clouds and rain drops surrounded the Basilica of St Francis, an important place of pilgrimage where people go to pray for solace — quite a symbolic scene of peace in the midst of change.
Popular images that relate to peace — “the calm after the storm” or the movement “from darkness to light” — seem to present peace as that which comes “after” the confusion, the difficulty, the struggle. Although there can be truth in that, there is also a peace that can be experienced right in the midst of these realities. No wonder, in Scripture, the Apostle John speaks of light shining right in the darkness (Jn. 1:5) and St Francis, in the “Canticle of Creatures,” writes that those who endure in peace will be crowned.
We don’t need to wait for life to get better or in order to be at peace, but we can find the light of peace passing through the very seasons of our lives and remain grounded there, rain or shine.