“Shalom” is the one word I cannot speak when faced with stinkbugs.
Sleep in a room infested with kamikaze wing-buzz and reek? Fat chance.
Shalom suggests lions laying down with lambs.
I will NOT lay down anywhere with stinkbugs.
Hence, The Bug Bomb.
And the death toll: 1 bedroom, 23 stinkos plus dozens of flies.
Then, post-carnage, the guilt.
Aren’t we meant to live at peace with creation as well as people?
Peace is only one accurate translation for shalom.
The word also means harmony, both spiritual and physical.
Wholeness. Fullness. Prosperity.
Inner completeness, soundness, tranquility.
Welfare: “to be safe in mind, body, or estate.”
An inward sense of rest despite outward circumstances.
Doug Hershey describes shalom as reciprocity, “. . . a type of wholeness that encourages you to give back—to generously repay something in some way.”
Probably excluding bug bombs.
Rabbi David Zaslow writes, “In the Hebraic way of thinking, wholeness is the joining together of opposites.”
Seems like-mindedness is optional.
Shalom also means “hello” and “farewell.”
“When I come from somewhere,” Rabbi Zaslow explains, “I am going somewhere else…“ [which produces a peace with wholeness as its source]. “[A]ll my opposing energies are somehow linked and part of a single whole.”
Which may include one’s personal nemesis.
Or take divergent political views wherein dissenters attempt to wall off the opposition. Who will restrain the roar between left- and right-wingers?
“It takes two wings for an eagle to fly,” Rabbi Zaslow observes. “It takes the integration of two opposing positions for there to be real shalom.”
How do we approach integration?
We might consider the word dialogue, meaning “across reason” or “speech that goes back and forth.”
What if those who disagree with us—even stridently—uniquely offer each of us the potential gift of deeper personal wholeness?
A touch of shalom.
Speech that goes back and forth might mean:
- redefining vocabulary when semantics derails discussion
- refusing to formulate our comeback while the other person is still speaking
- planting an idea, then making peace with our role in whatever sprouts
Can we listen deeply first, then challenge one another with civility?
What we speak embodies the power of life or death (Prov. 18:21).
My friend Mark, an artist, writer, and self-described “grumpy Jewish Christian,” tells me some rabbis teach that the Messiah will come when a certain unknown (yet fixed) number of good deeds are completed, each deed containing an element of shalom.
Could we add our small efforts to that growing number? Not to earn merit, or points, but rather enhance someone else’s tranquility, wholeness, safety, and rest.
Empowered by grace, good deeds are honest. Practical. Sustainable.
Years ago Bill and I recorded a song in unison. Blending our voices required deep listening to one another, surrendering our assumptions, and making ongoing, minute adjustments.
How might you live a life of shalom this week? I’d love more ideas . . .
p.s. I created a Playlist from song titles you suggested. Click “Reader’s Playlist” in menu bar.
Thank you again for sharing!