I have an image of a free-fall into pain, the second Sunday of Advent. The pain is so intense during this season of life. The physical and the emotional pain seem to be too much to bear, and I lean away from them. I run away from them. I desperately anesthetize wherever I can so that I can function on my sub-normal level that seems to be as good as it gets. Lying in bed tonight, I was given the image of leaning the opposite way: into the pain. Lean into the pain. Free-fall into it and see if you are not caught by the hand of Peace. One must lean into the heart of pain to find the peace that lives there. Because our Lord meets us in our pain, and it is there that He presents us with one of His sweetest gifts, his Shalom. God is with us, God is for us, and Emmanuel meets us when we do not avoid our pain but travel bravely into the heart of the hurt. He’s there. Peace awaits. Wholeness is found in the midst of the agony. And His love is there, driving out the fear. Pain is ripe with the fruit of peace.