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A Time for Peace

"The Artist's Garden at Giverty," Claude Monet, 1900.

During the end of term stress most in the academy feel right about now, I offer this fable that has gone ‘round the net for years. This is a version I’ve cobbled together from a couple of others. Hope it inspires you the way it does me, reminding me of the nature of God’s peace in our lives.

In the medieval times, a king wanted a painting in his throne room—a portrait representation of peace, so that in bad times he could glance at it to calm his soul. Thus, he decreed a contest to all artists in his kingdom to paint their best representation of peace and the winner would be rewarded greatly.

All artists submitted their finest work for the king to examine. 

One was a painting of a lake with children calmly wetting their feet on the shore.

The next was that of a sea with no waves and a fisherman calmly sleeping in his boat.

The final painting enraged the king. It was that of a mountain storm. The king felt the artist was mocking him and his request. He was compelled into the king’s presence. He was an old man, and the king demanded he explain if he was making fun of him. “I wanted paintings of peace and you bring a painting of a storm!”

The old man looked the king in the eye and replied, “Sire, look again, carefully, into the painting.” The king did so. The mountains were rugged and bare. Above seethed a putrid black sky from which torrents fell. Lightning flashed. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a frenzied foaming waterfall. This did not appear to be a peaceful place at all.

But, when the king looked even closer, he saw a single sunbeam piercing the storm. He followed it with his eyes behind the waterfall to a tiny bush growing in the rock. Inside the bush, a bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird at rest with her hatchlings.

The monarch recognized the old man’s wisdom and awarded him the prize, for he realized that true peace has nothing to do with one’s surroundings, but rather the state of one’s heart.

Homework:  Spend some time praying over Philippians 4:6-7 (and even through verse 9!).


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