Spiritual Practice


Rachel Starr Thomson

In 1569, Dirk Willems was running for his life. Arrested for being baptized as an adult, Willems escaped from prison and ran across a frozen pond toward freedom. As he ran, he heard the sound of his pursuer falling through the ice. Willems turned around and pulled the man out of the freezing water, saving his life. He was promptly returned to prison and, later that year, was burned at the stake.

Dirk Willems embodied the values of compassion and nonviolence. Like Jesus, he made peace by giving himself for another’s good.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted
for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:9–10 (NRSV)

The peace of Christ is not just a feeling of calm, but reconciliation with God and one another. I want to make reconciling peace in our divided, violent world. But peacemakers are not always well received. Sometimes the one they pull from the ice will haul them back to prison.

Yet, “blessed are the peacemakers.” Those who give themselves to bring reconciliation and peace to the world have a part in the ultimate victory of God’s eternal kingdom. They will be called the children of God, who came to bring us peace forever.



For Jesus peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle but the presence of love.

                                                                                 —Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking

—from devozine (November/December 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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