It was an other-worldly experience, getting through Security at a client’s corporate campus yesterday.
The process took a good 15 minutes or more – first, getting my car and driver’s license signed in at the front gate…and then still more ID checks and sign-ins at the reception desk in the lobby… plus a warning: Don’t go ANYWHERE without your escort.
In some respects, I ‘get’ why security is so tight at this particular office complex: Trade secrets abound there. Still, I was a bit bemused by it all – how closely it reminded me of the screening process required whenever I enter a maximum security prison for a Kairos retreat.
Neither setting – the prison nor the corporate campus – seems to have taken Jesus’ promise to heart: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.’ Instead, both places have adopted something more like a primal response to fear as their standard operating procedure.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that we have so much trouble trusting in the assurance that Jesus gives. He does, after all, provide a disclaimer: ‘Not as the world gives [peace] do I give it to you.’ And yet, we dare not be dismissive of the promise, even if the peace of Christ might seem unfamiliar – or impractical – to us at times. Jesus does want us to pay attention to what he’s saying: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.’
Easier said than done, right? After all, nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…the hurts I’ve experienced…the deceptions I’ve endured…the thievery I’ve suffered…the horrors I’ve witnessed. So get real, Jesus: Don’t talk to me about ‘peace’! I prefer to build walls. I’d rather trust in best-practice security procedures…or the strength of cold, hard steel.
No doubt, I was particularly sensitive to the rigors of the corporate lock-down I experienced on Monday morning…because of its contrast to the retreat setting where I spent my weekend. During our time together at La Salle, I — along with about 35 other men — actually did experience the kind of peace Jesus promises. So I know Christ’s peace is real, even if at times it’s hard to explain.
And apparently, I’m not alone in that experience. One of my favorite memories of the weekend occurred just before 11:00 Mass, as we were rejoining the parish community. The six ‘seed team’ guys from Toledo were packing up their rental van for the trip back home, and one of them remarked how much extra space there seemed to be in the rear compartment this time around. ‘I guess that’s what happens when you figure out how to offload some of your baggage to Jesus,’ he smiled.