One is the “There is an appointed time for everything … a time of war and a time of peace,” from Ecclesiastes.
The other is from my wife, and she said it one Sunday morning as we sat in our car waiting for the scrum, created by our fellow worshipers all anxious to get the Sam Hill out of the church parking lot, to die down. She said, “We offer each other Christ’s peace in church, but it doesn’t even last till we get out of the parking lot.”
At Mass, the peace event happens right before communion. “Let’s offer each other a sign of Christ’s peace,” the deacon invites. We turn to our neighbor and look them in the eye and smile and shake their hands, and say, “Peace be with you.” And we mean it. We want that to happen for our neighbor and he and she want that to happen for us. Fifteen minutes later we sing the final song and experience Catholic exodus and army ant entrance to the parking lot.
I don’t remember exactly where or when she said it. It was probably in the late sixties, early seventies, and in Florida, Mississippi, Texas, or California, in some city with a navy base. I do remember that I had gotten one kid strapped in the back in an infant seat as she strapped in the other. Then I got behind the wheel and stuck the key in the ignition.
“Wait,” she said.
I do not know what came over me. I listened to her even though I wanted to crank up the Chevy and drive to the levee or something. A lot of THOSE PEOPLE were getting to leave before we did. So, we waited, I patiently with my thumbs drumming, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” on the steering wheel. And she said her lines. I looked at her. She didn’t say them with “What is the matter with YOU PEOPLE” slathered over her compound sentence. She said it wistfully, with “Like I’m so sorry you lost it already,” coloring it with profound sympathy.
I had an insight that morning. She cattle prods one out of me every other decade or so. But I felt that her hanging onto her personal time of peace for twenty minutes, vice just fifteen, made the world a measurably better place to live in. So much better that no one would quibble over ending a sentence with a preposition.
I don’t know about you, but when my fingers grip a steering wheel, something happens. It’s like the wheel says, “Dude. Come on. We got places to go, things to do, people to meet. You know? Crank it!”
I confess I am not man enough to work a full five extra minutes of personal peace time after Mass. I however, do sit behind the wheel with my hands in my lap for five ticks and five tocks before I touch the wheel, and enable it to talk to me.
Dirty Harry says, “A man has to know his limitations.” My wife does five minutes. I can do ten seconds. Then it’s “Hud’d hud’n” time. Though truth be told, our Honda Odyssey doesn’t do “Hud’n, hud’n.”
Anyway, here’s wishing you peace into and clear out of the parking lot.