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P is for Peace

Today's devotion is written by Cynthia Harrison:

P is for Peace
P is for Pacific.  Peaceful in character.
Ferdinand Magellan named the Pacific Ocean in 1520.  He was trying to sail from Spain west across the Atlantic to find a quicker route to the Spice Islands (also known as the East Indies).  The world wasn’t entirely mapped at that time and he thought he could sail around South America and be at the Spice Islands.   Little did he know when he sailed around the southern tip of South America that he was still thousands of miles from his intended destination.
When Magellan came around the tip of South America, the waters into which he sailed were calm and peaceful which resulted in his name for that body of water, Pacific Ocean.  What he could not have foreseen was a journey to Asia that he anticipated would take 3-4 days across that vast ocean ended up taking almost four months.  During those four months, Magellan and his men learned the character of the Pacific Ocean, which to be sure was not always peaceful.
We often think of Advent as a peaceful time of anticipation.  But Advent is often filled with preparations for Christmas that can include a hurried rush to get gifts for loved ones and helpers, parties and dinners with family or coworkers, baking holiday treats, decorating your home or yard, worrying about the extra couple of pounds you could gain from the bounty of goodness.
In this year of staying home to stay safe, some of those activities that we would normally consider necessary to prepare for Christmas are not necessary or advisable.  At my home this means there will be no Ugly Christmas Sweater party with friends and lots of homemade cookies (props to Jessica Allen for being the Queen of the Ugly Christmas Sweater for several years!).
Without the frantic holiday preparations, are we left with peace?  Are we able to focus on the true character of Advent, the anticipation of the Christ Child?
Like Magellan sailing into the unknown, we have no way of knowing what Advent will look like in years to come.  What we can do is focus on the peace of being still.  We can stay home and look for positive ways to enjoy the unexpected seclusion we have been advised to observe.  In our manic culture that values being busy and productive all the time, we have been given the grace to slow down and enjoy the peace before us, right now.

-Cynthia Harrison

The background photo is of an early map of the Pacific Ocean by Abraham Ortelius (1527–1598), made in 1589.. “Maris Pacifici, (quod vulgoĢ€ Mar del Zur)" See more at https://lib-dbserver.princeton.edu/…/pacific-ocean-maps.html