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Maid of Shulam

By Kathleen Nichols

Consecrated Regnum Christi

November 5th, 2023 - Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center

I sat down at the Carob Lookout on the top of Mt. Arbel for some moments of quiet reflection during these troubled times here in the Holy Land. I took several deep breaths of fresh autumn air as if trying to bring the glittering beauty of the Sea of Galilee below inside me, to calm the anxiety of war and direct my thoughts to the Lord.

My eyes moved from the Golan Heights on the far side of the lake in front of me to the Southern hills of Lebanon, less than 20 miles to my left. Both are part of the so-called northern ‘Confrontation Line’, while the conflict in Gaza lies about three hours away to the south. Will the crisp blue sky be streaked by rocket fire today?

My prayer brought me to a verse in the Song of Songs describing two armies facing one another, but not engaged in battle. A chorus of voices asks why their focus is on a woman dancing along the ‘confrontation line’ between them.

Why do you gaze on the Maid of Shulam

Dancing as though between two camps?

(Song of Songs 7:1)

Who is she? Francis de Sales described her as the ‘tranquil daughter of peace’, the Bride transformed by God’s love into an image of victorious peace in the midst of hostile camps. She is so captivating that they call out,

Return, return, O maid of Shulam,

Return, return, that we may gaze on you!

(Song of Songs 7:1)

The longing both sides express here is the desire to look upon her, to see peace bringing seemingly irreconcilable groups together in harmony. Lasting peace comes not from external political maneuvers or battles, but from an interior life transformed by the personal love of the Lord, embodied by Bride of the Song, and immensely attractive to those who look upon her.

This October morning, my prayer is not just for external peace, but that everyone gripped by violence be personally caught up by the Lord and brought into the dance of the Maid of Shulam within. God’s love reconciles enemies and conflicts inside us, even in war and at the final moment of life. Such inner transformation substantially alters the world outside by shaping our decisions and concrete actions. I pray also that the example of Christians captivates others like the Bride of the Song, slowing brutality and opening a space for encounter with the Lord.

May the Lord give strength to his people;

May the Lord bless his people with peace.

(Psalm 29:11)

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