My friend articulated the Kingdom of Heaven to me yesterday in one of the most meaningful ways I have ever heard.
We were on a walk discussing everything from school closures, to our moms’ health, to the protests in Portland, to a recipe for tinto de verano, when the topic of the Kingdom of Heaven came up. Go figure.
As the midday sun warmed to scorching and we zig-zagged the trail in search of any shade that might leak in from the occasional tree, my friend reflected on last week’s sermon topic from Matthew 13, Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. She offered this gem:
The kingdom of heaven is like the very last breath of this life, when you know you have given everything you have to living, and perhaps even fought long and hard to stay here, and even your rattled breathing is part of the battle and the will to BE; and then an awareness floods your senses and you understand at a soul level that you have no control anymore over anything, and you simply surrender. And in that place of surrender you take one final breath, which is pure peace.
I let the magnitude of her words settle, and then broke into a grin and said, “That’ll preach, sister.”
Surrender followed by Peace may, in fact, be the ultimate definition of the Kingdom of God. Think back to a time when you had no choice but to admit to yourself that you were not in control of a situation, large or small, and in acknowledging that reality you allowed yourself to stop fighting – even just for a few moments – the outcome. I suspect the act of surrendering control that you never had anyway was immediately accompanied by a feeling of peace (however fleeting, because God knows we love to control all the things). That moment – that breath – is the beautiful thing about the God’s kingdom: it’s accessible to us over and over again, whenever we need it.
Peace I give you, my peace I leave with you, Jesus said (John 14:27).
Consider this: When are you most at peace? Most loving? Most accepting of yourself and others? Have you ever felt that something was NOT within your control… and you were ok with it?
In this moment, right now, take a deep breath. And just for this moment – this nanosecond if it’s all you can muster – let go completely of pain, negativity, feelings of heartbreak, loss, loneliness or frustration at the world’s messed-up-ness. And allow yourself to be immersed in one thing only: the beautiful breath of peace.