Everybody’s running around with two fingers up– if they aren’t busy lifting just one finger at the driver that just cut ’em off. Even so, that driver really just wants peace. We want to know that we’re going to get to work on time, that rent will be paid, that our electricity won’t be shut off, and that we’ll be able to put gas in that car so we can do it again tomorrow. (I use “we” loosely, here– different folks have different struggles) At the core of our beings, we want to feel “secure,” knowing that we’re protected from hunger, cold, and loneliness. We want peace.
What’s funny is that our language doesn’t tell us what peace is just by looking at the word. It’s kind of a nebulous “good thing” out there somewhere that nobody seems to have (unless they happen to smell like weed, and even then, it’s only for as long as the high lasts).
A few thousand years ago, and still today in some places, the word for peace was a real, concrete picture of that nebulous thing we all want. Originally, the Scriptural, Hebrew word was “Shalom,” spelled “Shin-Lamed-Vav-Mem.” (second word in the pic)
The Shin is the picture of the two front Teeth. Lamed is a picture of the Shepherd’s Staff. Vav is the Tent Peg, and Mem is Water. The Teeth is an image of protection and defense. The Shepherd’s Staff provides guidance and direction, pointing the way out for the sheep to find everything they need. The Tent Peg is the picture of securing or “nailing down.” Water is our source of life. Shalom is defined in Jeff Benner’s Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible , word #2845, “Complete: Made whole or complete by adding or subtracting. ‘To be in a state of wholeness. Also to restore or make right through payment or restitution. ‘A state of being whole, complete, or full. Also an offering of restitution or payment. ‘A greeting as a desire for completeness to another.”
Shalom is “The protection of the Shepherd, nailing down the water.” We are at peace when we are protected and provided for by our Creator, and when we are made “complete.” In order to be “complete,” we need air, water, food, and shelter. Without land to grow food on, we are incomplete, and the land is incomplete without the humble people who care for it, watching over it with sensitivity to see that seeds sprout in it. Finding those humble people gives the rest of that picture of completeness– we’re no longer lonely 🙂
*Originally posted January 28, 2010 on my old blogsite