Sometimes as I am going through my days, small things catch in my mind and send me into “deep thinking” mode. For example, the greetings here are often about peace: “Peace be to you!” and the response, “And to you be peace!“. Or another is, “What’s your news?” and the response, “Peace!“.
Yet, the great irony is that clearly no one here really has any peace.
When we first came to this island, I was shocked and burdened at how low the standard of living is. Poverty was all I could think about, and I saw it everywhere! Now I see that those thoughts were colored by my worldly perspective, especially my materialistic American worldview.
A year and a half later, my eyes have slowly adjusted and today I see a totally different picture:
There is so much to be grateful for here! The communities are vibrant – people playing sports, dominoes, cards, etc. Celebrating new lives, marriages, and mourning those who pass. The land is breathtakingly beautiful, and incredibly fertile! Even the land which is not farmed produces tons of delicious fruit, like mangoes, lychees, lemons, oranges, guavas, etc. There is always food to eat here, and no reason for anyone to go hungry. Also, life here is not terribly expensive, and so the people can live very comfortably with less income. There are so many reasons to be content and at peace…
…and yet, no one here is content. So, some people work incredibly hard to earn lots of money; some go from woman to woman to woman, or from man to man to man; others ignore the social taboos and seek solace in drinking and night life. Many just dream of going to the true promise land… France! (or the French island, at least).Yet, even for those few who make it there, there is no peace to be found. Every one of them is trapped reaching for a future which they imagine will bring them peace.
So, I see how the very same plague of sin that I am so familiar with at home in the States is also present here! In the words of King Solomon, chasing after the wind is vanity! They are searching for something that will satisfy them, but there is only one who can bring them peace.
And so, each day as I am greeted, “May peace be upon you” my heart prays in response,
“and may the peace of Christ be upon you”