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Finding Peace on an Ant Hill

Blog Headers 2023-24 (18)

Editor’s Note: Lay missioner Susan Sarkissian recalls a childhood memory and shares how it inspires her to find peace with other people and in nature.

I recently walked past a hillside teeming with multiple varieties of vegetation. It struck me seeing this struggle for space, light, and air to breathe among this collection of grasses, flowers, and ivy. Is this a battle or a compromise? Living in the city can often feel this way as people easily encroach on one another’s space.

I recall a time when I was a young girl, sitting on a short mound outside in my backyard. I was daydreaming when I was suddenly jolted by a scream from my mother and a cold blast of water from the hose. Had I done something wrong? She said she was sorry, and asked why I didn’t hear her calling to get off the ant hill. Unbeknownst to me, I had become covered in ants!

Until that rude awakening, I was in complete peace and clueless that the ants and I shared the same space. To them, I was nothing more than an extension of the hill and they continued their work by simply traveling over me. Also, they did not disturb me. Their touch was as gentle as a breath. For that brief moment, we coexisted and lived in harmony.

I often wonder about that struggle for peace we experience in our daily lives. I have been in many places across the US in the last few months. In my last blog, I shared my experiences traveling by train, stopping to see old friends, and making new ones along the way. Yet on countless walks in many communities, I have also witnessed strife, such as starving and lonely people living uncared for on the streets, and police tape marking off the senseless murder of a friend. A multitude of news feeds scream reports of war, conspiracy, and outright acts of hate. In such seeming chaos, it would be easy to fall into despair.

Yet my faith ultimately triumphs. With faith comes hope, and hope enables love. Faith, hope and love are the blessed triad of grace for which children are naturally attuned. That is why I think Jesus calls us to “be as little children” (Matthew 18:2). I think about how as a child I sat in harmony with those ants. As an adult, I too would probably have panicked at seeing that swarm. As a child, I often retreated into a world of imagination, and that world bursted with hope and joy. As an adult I lived immersed with responsibilities, leaving little room or time for dreaming. 

However, in these past few years, Jesus has helped me become reacquainted with that little girl and her wonderful imaginings. In our daily walks together, we retreat into prayer and I get an ever so gentle hint of the peace He intended for us at our creation. With that peace comes desire to walk on this troubled earth with hope that loving one another and sharing this amazing land together in harmony is possible.

Question for Reflection: How is Jesus inviting you to find peace and harmony in your environment?

Susan is from California and enjoyed her role as wife and mother for 17 years. When her husband died, she put her degree to work teaching math to high school students. She retired in 2022 so that she could dedicate time to nurture her newfound faith. Living simply was born out of necessity, but it also allowed for greater freedom in looking for new opportunities. FMS was one of many doors that opened for Susan in her journey to seek others who share her faith as well as a desire to serve. As a long-term lay missioner, Susan looks forward to the opportunity to build relationships in her new home, as well as develop a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those marginalized in society.