"The motto was 'Pax,' but the word was set in a circle of thorns. Pax: peace, but what a strange peace, made of unremitting toil and effort, seldom with a seen result; subject to constant interruptions, unexpected demands, short sleep at nights, little comfort, sometimes scant food; beset with disappointments and usually misunderstood; yet peace all the same, undeviating, filled with joy and gratitude and love. 'It is my own peace I give unto you.' Not, notice, the world's peace."
These are the opening words of Rumer Godden's novel, In This House of Brede, which chronicles the life of a 42-year-old woman who leaves a thriving career, "her flat in London overlooking a garden square, its rooms so finished and exquisite, with Persian rugs, furniture, pictures," to become a nun in a cloistered Benedictine community. I read them last night, sitting up in bed, unable to sleep. They seem worth repeating on this Good Friday as we reflect upon the price that Jesus paid to win for us victory over Hell and death, and to give us, in their place, unending life and peace - His peace, which surpasses understanding, and abides with us through every sorrow, gale and storm.