Stress – few know that there are two kinds of stress. Sometimes, stress is experienced as “eustress” (from the Greek “eu” meaning ‘good’) which, according to the endocrinologist Hans Selye, is the kind of stress that is healthy and gives a good, positive feeling.

However, more often than not, the stress that is experienced is “distress” (from the Latin prefix “dis” meaning ‘having a negative force.’ ) That form of stress is about unpleasant/negative feelings or emotions that impact the level of functioning, whether or not they are related to work, relationships, health, finances, busyness, politics, grief, needing to be perfect or always organized.  Sometimes the stress is related to fear (fear of the known; fear of the unknown).  And sometimes, the distress is a combination of several of the above.

Peace – oh how our world needs peace. But fear, busyness, worry, grief, physical pain, guilt, sleepless nights, and those ever-present “what-if’s” creep into our minds.  And then there are the actions of bullies (at work, school, cyberspace), politicians, social media, conspiracy theorists who further propel thoughts away from experiencing any sense of peace.

And yet … and yet serenity and peace are available. We only need to be aware of them … in the gift of our breath … in the gift of gentle words, spoken aloud or in the silence of hearts for another, and for ourselves, like the words of this Celtic spirituality-based prayer which hopefully encourage us to exhale the distress in and around our lives, and inhale peace.

Creator, Holy One, Loving God,
circle me.
Keep protection near and danger afar.
Circle me. Keep hope within and doubt without.
Circle me. Keep light near and darkness afar.
Circle me Keep peace within and evil out.
<adapted from the work of David Adam, this “Circle Me” meditation can be used to encompass others by simply substituting ‘us’ for ‘me.’)

As Christians mark the Season of Advent, and this coming week – the Second Sunday of Advent with its them of Peace, those of the Jewish faith around the world are observing Hanukkah. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said something very important:

“For though my faith is not yours and yours is not mine, if we are each free to light our own flame, together we can banish some of the darkness in the world.”

The lighting of candles is significant in many faith and cultural traditions. As candles are lit, darkness dissipates, if only for a moment.

In the centre of the Jewish Menorah is the Shamash which is used to light the other candles, one on each of the nights of Hanukkah. Whether we are Jew, atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, agnostic, Zoroastrian, Muslim or something else, perhaps we can all be an Advent candlelighter … the Shamash of Peace in our world. May we ‘take this moment’ of Advent 2, and invite peace for those living in war-torn countries, and for ourselves, families, work places, government offices, streets, playgrounds, places of worship and schools wherever.

I take this moment
a moment for stillness
in the presence of,
in the presence of the-possibility-of,
Holy Other.

I acknowledge that
what has been done has been done.
What has not been done has not been done.
I let it be.

Just as the night is dark,
I choose to let fears of the darkness of the world
and of my own life rest.
Rest with the Creator.

Just as the night is quiet,
I invite the quietness of Holy Peace to enfold –
enfold all dear to us,
enfold all who experience no peace.

Just as the night heralds the dawn.
May I look expectantly to
a new day,
new joys,
new possibilities.
So may it be. Amen. So may it be.

(A prayer based on a prayer in the New Zealand Book of Prayer)


My friends, may peace, deep peace, be yours. May each of us be the Shamash in the world around us in some small way. And may we light an Advent Candle for Peace literally and figuratively so that each of us is a reflection and beacon of peace to others.  

мир. Shalom. Paix. Vrede. Patz. Salaam. Lapè. Hacaña. Mir. Santi. Zhi-bde. Pau. Minaggen. Hohiyi. Heddwich. Friede. Irini. Paco. Baké. Paz. Solh.  Síocháin. Shee. śānti. Udo. Friður. Rangima’arie, Nohopuku, Rongo. Vrede. Pokój. Pace. Santipap. Barış. Peace

As always, you are welcome to share with accreditation and link to this page and/or the Soulistry blog.