When you think about it, this seems rather an odd way to describe peace, as though it were a tangible, distinguishable thing that can be visibly transmitted from person to person. This passage about Jesus sending the 70 disciples out to preach the good news and heal people is a remarkable combination of practical advice and spiritual teaching, and all of it converges on the question of what it means to have, and share, God’s peace.
As you probably know, I spent the week before last in Winnipeg at the Canadian School of Peacebuilding at Canadian Mennonite University, auditing a course called “Indigenous Perspectives on Salvation, Repentance, Peace, and Justice.”
In 2005, I had just started a summer job as a community forester with the Urban Resources Initiative in New Haven, an organization that worked with neighborhood people to create greenspaces and plant trees in the city. One day, as we were selecting trees in the nursery, my boss told us that one should generally avoid planting trees in pairs.
A few weeks ago, I was on the bus and there were two people having a conversation behind me. It wasn’t in English, so of course, being in Montreal, my brain assumed it was French and first attempted to process it that way. The people involved seemed to be saying the word “champignon” a lot, but just as I was trying to figure out why they had so much to say about mushrooms, I realized that in fact they were speaking Chinese.
I had been there about two weeks. It could have been worse. The jailer was an honourable man, and no crueler than necessary under the circumstances. I had gotten fairly accustomed to the routine, and I had enough friends left to bring me food and blankets. But none of them would go so far as to stick their necks out and witness on my behalf in court. So I couldn’t see any way out of the legal tangle I had gotten myself into, and most of the time I did my best simply not to think at all.