peace-less-ness (pees’ – lus – nes) n. The condition of living in a state of being or geography where there is no peace. See also: hell.

Let me start by admitting that I made up that word. In my old dictionary, there is no word between “peaceful” and “peacemaker,” no word on that page to indicate the absence of peace, only its presence. It only occurred to me as I typed the made-up word that it could be a synonym for what we mean by “hell.”

I think the real description of peacelessness, however, is more like disturbance, or unease, like waiting for something to happen, like standing on one foot and hoping nothing comes by to make you lose your balance. I think we’re living with chronic and widespread peacelessness right now, with another variant of the coronavirus breaking loose from its incubation in people, and whatever other species might be harboring its evolution.

As I typed the words in the paragraph above, I felt another source of peacelessness: the virus of fear replicating and undergoing mutations in people who are afraid of words and concepts they don’t understand and don’t want mucking up their world views, their universes. Viral fear is a major source of peacelessness, and we haven’t found a vaccine for that in all these years. These centuries.

At Christmastime we find ourselves looking toward peace, looking to make peace happen around us and for other people, the peace that comes from giving and receiving love. I think it’s the reason we look forward to this season. For maybe one month out of 12, we’re focused on this thing that really matters: loved ones, be they family, friends, neighbors, fellow members of the community, even strangers as we remember Joseph and Mary arriving in Bethlehem with no room at the inn. It’s the peace that comes from recognizing that we are members of each other, “all of us, everything,” as Wendell Berry put it so exquisitely in a story called “The Wild Birds.” 

And to the extent that we can enter that reality, the peacelessness goes away. But then, before the gift wrapping paper even has a chance to be recycled, we celebrate the beginning of a new calendar year by getting drunk, shooting bullets into the sky, and killing ourselves and each other on the highway. It’s an abrupt and ugly end to the season of hope and light.

In Advent, Christians return to the scene where our real hope of peace begins. It’s often portrayed as a time of waiting, which is lovely and correct. But if we really read the words and study the context of the lives of the Jewish people in those predawn years, it was a time of peacelessness. The faithful were not sure but that they’d been abandoned by Yahweh, that his patience was used up, the covenant revoked (undoubtedly for good reason.) The less faithful were straying and taking up with strangers whose gods were a little less demanding, perhaps even more entertaining. The Romans had conquered them, just one of many defeats over the centuries, and their god, Caesar, was a tyrant, treating non-Romans like sticks to be walked on. I think it’s comparable to how Israelis are treating Palestinians today.

The Prince of Peace we call him, this answer to peacelessness who arrived in the dead of night, the dead of winter in the hill country of Judea, many miles from home. From that first miraculous, safe night in the stable, we’ll follow his journey among the rural people in the hill country of Judea and Galilee until he arrives in urban Jerusalem to be crucified. The whole story is about peacemaking in a time and region of peacelessness, and it begins in the birth we celebrate in a couple of weeks.

May peacelessness evaporate for you as we move toward that precious night.

Trudy Wischemann is an itinerant non-denominational preacher who lives in Nazareth (oops, Lindsay). You can send her your peace sightings c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit and leave a comment there.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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