These things I have spoken to you, that in me, you may have peace…—JOHN 16:33 (KJV)
“I’ve got peace like a river…” I sang softly, while sitting at the bedside of Janis, who was nonverbal and brain-injured. However, Janis was not peaceful. She was agitated. Her arms twitched; her mouth grimaced.
“I hope you can help soothe her,” the nurse had said with concern. “She had a rough night last night.” As a therapeutic musician, I hoped so too.
But as I sang about peace, I didn’t feel peaceful either. Inwardly, I felt restless, too. My thoughts were centered around unpaid bills and the piles of laundry at home. I knew I needed to bring my whole self to this moment with Janis or I would be of little use.
It was then I noticed her eyes. Normally blank, they were holding my gaze—Janis was making eye contact! A rare thing for someone with a traumatic brain injury such as hers. As I looked into her eyes, I felt the peace of God wash over me. My to-do list worries slowly dissolved. I held Janis’s hand, and she squeezed it. Her body relaxed, and so did mine.
“I’ve got peace like a river in my soul…” I sang on, with feeling.
It’s so easy to be consumed with all we have to do. Yet this prevents us from being fully present with those we care for, with ourselves and with God.