Monday of the fourth week of Lent

God is our refuge and strength,
  a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
  though the earth should change,
And though the mountains slip
   into the heart of the sea…
                                 Psalm 45 [46]: 1-2

.             .           .

Today is my birthday. Snow is falling, and I am trying to work despite having a cold. Luckily I had a guest to teach my class this morning, a session on war and peace in the Orthodox tradition. From him I heard that a renowned mystic (Fr Sophrony) described war as fratricide. He lived through both world wars and the experience shaped him profoundly. In his writing, he seems to regard war as a symptom of the fallen human condition; its opposite is not armistice or treaty but the peace of Christ. Importantly, this peace–like the image of God’s presence through the upheaval of our earthly existence–does not depend on the cessation of hostilities between opposing powers, but is always and everywhere present.

Something like this presence of God, this inbreaking peace, must be the power at work in another story that came to my attention today, I think not by accident. It is worth reading this story of two pilots, one American and one German, who ‘met’ in the sky over Germany in December 1943. The American pilot and those left alive on his B-17 were saved by the German fighter pilot who took to the air to shoot them down.

Peace happens. Deo gratias.

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