Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
When I was a child, adults frequently asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was their default question when they didn’t know what else to say. In 4th grade, I answered that I wanted to be a missionary nurse to Nigeria. That response was formulated after a church camp where I heard a missionary nurse from Nigeria speak and was before I knew I was more suited to Social Sciences rather than Science. By 7th grade, my answer was a lawyer. My dad thought that appropriate since I liked to argue. In 8th grade, I had an epiphany and decided to be a historian. That one stuck and fortunately my parents never asked me how I could earn a living. I am now close to finishing up a thirty-six-year career as a historian and managed to make a living after all. My career has been challenging, fulfilling and mostly fun. I’ve told stories, helped to save history, mentored other professionals and worked with a lot of wonderful volunteers, bosses and employees. There have been a few stinkers, some tears and some anger, but for the most part, every day, almost every day, has been a joy. My fourteen-year-old self never could have imagined what a wonderful career I would have. But I am grateful for that choice and I think my community is too. Now, almost fifty years later, as I transfer that responsibility to a younger generation, I hear a similar question as I did when I was a child. “What are you going to do in retirement?” When I remind people of our upcoming cross-country adventure, they add, “Yes, but what are you going to do after that?” I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. I’ve had requests to volunteer with everything from dog rescues to community theaters. There are boards that would “love” my experience, and of course, several dozen history organizations expecting me to come back and work just as I have for so many decades but unpaid. They all do wonderful work in our community, and I am tempted. But, after prayer and thought, I keep coming back to one thing. I want to be a peacemaker. I am not sure what that will entail. Will I learn mediation and help to reconcile opposing sides? Will I counsel fractured families? Will I bridge the divides between neighborhoods, racial groups, diverse peoples, political parties? Will I be someone who connects people together? What will it mean to be a peacemaker? The more I think about it, the more I have defined peacemaker at least for me. I imagine a business card that will read: Cathy Slusser, Curator of Kindness, Purveyor of Peace, Encourager Extraordinaire, Listener at Large, Bridge Builder. That’s what I want to be. Someone who points out opportunities to be kind, deals in peace, is an outrageous encourager, who listens carefully to understand and builds bridges. What do you want to be when you grow up?