I’ll see about a hundred people over the course of a normal day. That’s a lot of humanity for a guy who tends to be a little more at peace with the world when he’s alone in the woods. Still, it isn’t all bad. There are some folks I come across who tend to stick in my mind for whatever reason. Three of them are stuck there right now.
I passed Robbie Lawson’s house this morning on my way into town and saw him out in the backyard. It was rainy and windy and cold, yet there he was—all sixty pounds of him—waling away on his father’s old punching bag that hung from their oak tree. Robbie’s training, his father told me. Seems there’s a bully problem at school. And as the code of honor among boys precludes involvement of both teachers and parents, Robbie has decided to take care of things himself. Sooner or later that bully’s going to get what’s coming to him.
I saw Davey Jackson at the 7-11 doing what he always does. I’m pretty sure the owners stock up on those cheap single roses that sit by the cash register just for him. Davey stops by every other day or so on his way home from work to buy a scratch-off and a rose for his wife, Marian. The lotto ticket is a vain prayer for a better life. The roses aren’t a token of love as much as apology. Both speak to the same point—Marian’s a hard lady to please.
Among the throng of people at Target this afternoon was Kirk Sensabaugh, who had just returned from Afghanistan. He had the ramrod posture of a Marine and the sad eyes of someone who’d seen too much. It was his desire to go, he told me, and also his desire to go back. “We gotta finish what they started,” he said. Kirk was due for his second tour of duty in a month.
It would seem on the surface those three people have little in common. Seemed so to me, anyway. But the more I thought about them the more I came to realize they did. There was one thing they were each striving for in their own way, whether they realized it or not. And it’s the one thing we’re all striving for, too.
Ask ten people what it is they want in life and you’ll likely get ten different answers. Some will say happiness, others success, other security. There will be at least one “love,” one “fulfillment,” and one “purpose.” But at the root of each of those things lies a longing for one thing alone:
That’s what Robbie wanted. Peace not with a schoolyard bully, but with himself. He’s afraid. Very much so. And even though he’d never confess that fear to anyone, it’s something that has gnawed at him. There’s a war raging in his tiny heart, and the only way he’ll find his peace is by confronting the person who holds it hostage.
Peace is what Davey wants, too. An end to the arguments and silence and a return to a love that was once there but is now hidden beneath layers of resentment and dreams unfulfilled.
Peace is also why Kirk has spent what to him was an eternity of months in the frozen mountains of a faraway country. Why he willingly and daily laid his life aside for the benefit of us all. He and those like him face our nightmares for us so we may sleep in safety. And more, they have come to understand what many in our country cannot—there is a peace that can only be found on the other side of war.
They’re searching and striving and hoping. All three of them.
But I wonder if they know the truth of what they seek.
I wonder if Robbie understands that there will always be bullies in his life and that only the least dangerous take the form of people. Or if Davey understands that the fairy tale that is marriage most often is not. Sometimes, many times, love just isn’t enough. And I wonder if Kirk understands that peace, whether obtained through war or instead of it, is a fleeting thing destined to blow away with the slightest breeze.
Because the peace they seek, the peace we all seek, cannot be gotten through our own efforts. It depends on Someone greater than us.
Because God made us for Himself, and there can be no peace unless it is peace in Him.
This post is part of the blog carnival on Peace hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more posts about this topic, please go here.