Jena Vangjel of Baton Rouge, LA USA
For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. -Romans 14:17-19
Joining the local YMCA has been a source of joy for me. It allows me to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it has also connected me to my community in unexpected and enriching ways. This connection hasn’t been profound-merely simple exchanges with people that I wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with. Recently, I attended a pilates class at the Y for the first time. I walked in slightly unsure of myself-I didn\’t know anyone in the class or anything about what was required.
There was an older man already in the room, waiting for the session to begin. He immediately introduced himself to me with a warm smile. His name was Charlie, and I instantly felt safe and at ease around him. He asked if I’d ever attended a pilates class before. I said no, so he helped me get the necessary equipment ready. Then, as the other members of the class arrived, he introduced me to every person. If someone didn’t walk right past us, he would call them over so I could meet them. During the class, he would quietly mention pertinent information or tips, and halfway through he looked over and said warmly, “You’re doing great!” At the end of class I thanked him for his kindness and help. He said, “I hope we’ll see you back!” and then invited me to a different class he thought I would like as well.
As I left the gym feeling buoyed by the authentic kindness I’d experienced, I found myself thinking about what a great witness Charlie had been. He greeted me with love, helped me learn the ropes without me having to ask, introduced me to everyone so I felt at home, and then invited me back for more. If he’d been the first person I met at a new church, I would’ve felt welcomed, at ease, and excited to return in the future. I’m so grateful for Charlie and for how he literally created community for me. That pilates class taught me a lot, and I’ll be back for more!
I surrender into your love, O God.
What might it look like to surrender a little to God each day? A simple prayer of surrender can help us become aware of God’s consistent invitations to deeper relationship and awareness. Imagine when you encounter a challenging person or situation silently uttering this prayer, “I surrender into your love, O God.” The same prayer can be meaningful in moments of joy and gratitude as a way of returning to the awareness of oneness with God. It’s ok if we don’t surrender everything all at once all the time. The prayer of surrender is a constant practice of returning little by little to the deepest love that is the ground of our being and desires wholeness and oneness for us and all creation.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.