There’s an iconic photo of a young dad carrying his 3-year-old son as he winds his way through the throng of last-minute Christmas shoppers (of which he is one) at a very crowded mall (this was obviously captured pre-social distancing). He has several bags clutched in one hand and is cradling his son with the other as he weaves his way through the swarming mob. The heartwarming part of the shot is that with all the noise and chaos and crush of people, the son has his arms laid around his dad’s neck and is sound asleep in the warmth and security of his papa’s comforting embrace! The cherubic smile on his slumbering face communicates that all is peace in this little guy’s world!

I’m reminded of a time when I was six or seven years old. My grandmother had a small dairy farm which my father and aunts and uncles maintained for her; cleaning the barn, pasturing and milking the cows, making butter and buttermilk (yum!), bringing in the hay crop each summer, etc. The dozen or so cows produced a lot of milk, so it got distributed seven evenings a week by my father after chores. We called it the ‘milk run’ and it would take an hour or so to complete, depending on how chatty my father was along the way (yes, I know: apple-falling-tree; comparisons have been numerous!).  Now back to my point. I would sometimes go on this ‘milk run’, usually curled up on the huge back bench seat of our Chevy Impala (pre seat belts, of course), listening to music on the car radio, with not a care in the world, somehow totally chilled out as my father navigated streets, deliveries, long conversations. We rarely even spoke. It was just the being there that felt decadent, indulgent. As I think about it now, I’m not sure whether my wanting to get out in the evening was the reason for my being included or if it was at the request of my frazzled mother that I was whisked away – hmm. Anyway, back, again, to my point. Both my fondly remembered ‘late-night’ trips and the photo I first mentioned, provide telling images of the peace our Prince of Peace brings. It’s an internally realized serenity, a pervasive atmosphere of ‘shalom’ as we’ve often described it, truly a sense, even without all external things being buttoned up, that nothing shreds the peace that passes all understanding. Nothing. Any pictures that come to mind for you? Or maybe a thousand words?


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