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Peace is not tame

“Vespers”  by Lydia C

Painting of Swan on music for morning prayer

PEACE.  Whenever I see a swan, I feel peace. Turns out I’m not alone.  Out of curiosity, I looked up what swans symbolize. One source said:

“These birds are considered sacred in many cultures; to see them is a good omen and signifies peace and contentment.”

Peace is my word for the year. (2024) But the peace I’m after is not the passive, wimpy, just “accept what happens” kind of thing we have come to call peace.  No.  Not that.  I’m discovering peace is more than that.

Jesus is called the Prince of Peace.  If He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords - and He is -  then anything He is the prince of means that area/situation/feeling/climate must come under His peace.  And that peace is backed by all of His strength and authority.

I remember seeing my first swan in real life. Before that moment, they had been the beautiful beings of fairy tales. They accompanied the princess. On the day of that first sighting I was a distraught nanny in Massachusetts who had melted a hole in a brand new foul weather coat that one of my girls needed for sailing lessons.  I had been using iron-on name labels to label all her clothing.  Such errors were not met with much mercy in the household, so I was avoiding shame by sneaking out to buy her a new one with my own funds to avoid the lecture.  The owners of the shop knew my employer.  When I told them why I was there, they rolled their eyes and said, “Oh we know her.”  They gave me the replacement at no cost.  Thanks to them, it was as if it had never happened.

But the healing began on the drive there.   Drawn to the sunlight over a pond in a marshy area, I spontaneously decided to pull over - just to look.  There was a pretty good drop down from the spot where I stood to the water below.  And there, just resting, was a swan!  The surpise. The wonder. The awe.  The literally breathtaking beauty of that moment completely held me spellbound.  I didn’t dare move.  And then the swan, not the least bit disturbed by me, slowly glided out and to the right into a little side branch through the grasses in the pond until out of sight.

Several things hit me all at once.  First, swans are BIG!  Really big.  I was very glad to have the drop off from where I stood.  Still, I was completely aware that this majestic bird was fully capable of being fierce if the need - or inclination - arose.  They are powerful which makes them all the more beautiful.  It is easy to see how they have been related to royalty in fairy tales and ballet.

The next thing was how incredibly white they are.  Dazzling white.  It’s no wonder God gave them those black masks around their eyes.  Otherwise, their own reflection would be blinding!  It seems to me that they do not wear white so much as they just ARE white.  Scientifically, I would guess that this has to do with how they reflect the sun due in part to the oils that make them water and weather resistant.  That in itself is so cool!  What if I could reflect the Light that way with such peace.  No effort.  Just by being.  And what if his anointing oil of the Holy Spirit  is what made that happen and what makes me resistant to storms and cold times?

Swans are perfectly made for still waters as in Psalm 23.  And yet they are also made to cover the distance!  Capable of high speeds when crossing the heavens, they are calm and unhurried when closest to people.  It also hits me that they migrate in groups, but can be seen alone when at rest.

The music is, as best as I can remember, organ prelude music.  All of it is reflective and written to bring the congregation into the presence of God in the morning.  What if we started our day in peace rather than running after it.  What if we went through each day knowing that we are harbingers of peace, inspiring to others just by being at peace.  Capable of being fierce if needed, but not looking for a fight.  Peaceful even in knowing that we would win if and when a situation called for it.  

Swans usually mate for life.  To be the bride of Christ seals our identity like no other state of being could.  They say couples look more alike the longer they have been married.  May we, like swans, reflect the Prince of Peace more with every passing moment.

And just as the owners of the store got to cover my shame because they had both the compassion and the authority to do so, the swan is a symbol for me that my Prince of Peace has done the same with all my shame.  And therein lies my own peace, carried like a cygnet on the back of her parent, safe from all harm and perfectly at peace.



©2024 Lydia D Crouch


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