I’ve mentioned before that I work with a coach. Recently he had me take a “needs assessment.” I thought it might be like one of those quizzes in Cosmopolitan magazine, revealing that I need to buy more silky blouses, or light a scented candle. Or maybe it would be similar to a “love languages” test and tell me what I already know, that I need a lot of hugs.
I was surprised to learn that my number one need is for PEACE.
Peace? At first I felt let-down. Isn’t that sort of broad and generic? It’s like saying all you need is love.
But the more I sat with it, the more the idea of peace started vibrating in me like a clear bell-tone. I looked at the subtitle of my memoir, The Buddha at my Table: How One Woman Found Peace in Betrayal and Divorce, and it struck me—peace is what I’ve been seeking for a long time. And peace is what I’ve found. It says it right there on the manuscript!
My title, The Buddha at my Table, is taken from a chapter in the book about the day I found a monk in my dining room. True story: my husband and I had our first therapy session scheduled to see whether there was a chance to save our marriage. I was in my bedroom when my son rushed in to tell me there was a man in an orange cape sitting at the table. Confused, I investigated and found a monk in traditional orange robes smiling and nodding at me. Our babysitter introduced him as a friend from their hometown in Thailand. He didn’t speak English but happily accepted a cup of tea.
I left to meet my husband at the session and listened while he told me hurtful, shocking things—he never loved me, he didn’t believe in monogamy, and he wanted to “wrap things up” with me in four weeks. Afterwards, a wave of rage unlike anything I’d ever felt rose in me and made my hands shake so violently I couldn’t start my car. When I got home, the monk was gone, and when my sitter left, I sat where he had sat, hoping to absorb some of his peace.
That’s when, even in my anger, I knew there was something happening for me. I just didn’t know how I’d ever find it.
What I came to see through writing the book is that peace is never lost. It always dwells right where we are. It may not show up in bright colors. It may speak a foreign language. But it’s there, in the simplest things: a cup of tea, a smile. For me, peace was in a bag of sliced Honeycrisp apples my friend gave me when I couldn’t eat. It was the feel of the heated seats when I cried in my car on those first icy, bleak days. It was my best friend rubbing my back. It revealed itself in the words of my journal, then the pages of my book.
Peace is, as it turns out, all I need.
What is your greatest need? Is it for justice, to be of service, to be seen and heard? Is it freedom? Peace? Joy? And how is that showing up for you right now, where you live? In what ways is it sitting in front of you?
These are the questions that interest me. And when I lose my way—and I do—the image I love most is that of my former pastor, her arms outstretched over the communion loaves, saying “The table is set. Won’t you come?”
(Read an excerpt here.)