"Spread over us your shelter of peace," we ask God every Friday night in the Hashkivenu prayer. We can interpret this to mean that peace requires expansion, observed the rabbi at services this week, since God needs to create something wide for the shelter to be able to cover us.
But what if only God expands in this scenario? What if we remain closed--will peace reach those places within us that stay hidden? The question made me think of the times I've walked down the street with a friend and it started to rain. If my friend has an umbrella and I don't, then I'll try to squeeze under hers. Invariably I'll wrap my arms around myself in an attempt to become as small as possible, but that usually backfires; it creates an awkward, uneven gait, and I end up bumping into shoulders and elbows and getting soaked. The only way I can stay dry is to relax and synchronize my steps with the shelter-bearer.
I think that's the big problem with achieving peace--we're afraid that expansion will reveal those parts of us we don't want to see. It's one thing to pray that God, or the other country or person, will become wide and open to reveal new shelters and pathways. It's not so easy to reciprocate, however.
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