Proverbs 14:30 (CEB)
30 A peaceful mind gives life to the body,
but jealousy rots the bones.
If I was looking for an opposing word for “jealousy”, I’m not sure if “peaceful” would have been any of my top 10 picks. I’m not alone in this – when I looked up antonyms for “jealousy”, I got: undemanding, trusting, generous, tolerant, understanding, and well-meaning.
My curiosity about this seemingly straight-forward Proverb didn’t stop there. Do all translations use “peaceful” and “jealousy” as opposing words? No they do not.
Words used in place of “peaceful’ depending on the English translation are: tranquil, sound heart, sound mind, and healed heart.
Words used in place of “jealousy” depending on the English translation are: Passion, envy, and runaway emotions.
“Sound Heart” and “Envy” are probably closest to the original Hebrew.
So I decided to think about this Proverb in terms of meditation, since that is often my image of “peacefulness”. The moments in my life where I feel strong urges to meditate are often times when, you could say, my bones feel like they’re rotting.
There are many things that can cause this feeling: exhaustion about this pandemic, fear for our nation, sadness from not getting to visit friends and family. Though jealousy or envy is not how I’d initially describe the source of that feeling, it may be more accurate than I initially thought. I’m envious of what I feel I’m missing out on because of COVID, of the amazing bravery of those who speak out against injustice, and of those who get to quarantine with all their family members.
Naming that envy, those runaway emotions caused by the chaos of this world, can be a way of removing some of the power it has over us. It can be one small step towards stopping the rot in our bones from spreading. It can begin the process of discovering a peaceful mind that gives life to the body.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Take 5 minutes out of your day today to find a quiet space. There are many guided mediation video’s or podcasts you can use, but you can also just take time for yourself. Set a timer on your phone. Forgive yourself when your brain wanders or your posture loosens. Imagine all the rot built up in your bones beginning to chip away.
Prayer: God of Peace, when the world seems to loud, guide us towards quiet spaces where we can become whole again. Amen.