it does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble
or hard work. it means to be in
the midst of those things and still
be calm in your heart.
This week more than ever I can hear my grandmother’s voice saying phrases like, “This too shall pass.” “You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can choose your reaction.” And of course, “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is a time of surrender, a time of acceptance. We are raised to think that surrender is a negative word, but right now surrender does not mean ‘giving in’, it means giving up on fighting with reality.
Life has dealt us a hand like no other we have known and now is not the time to fight with life, it is time to accept that this virus is happening and do the things necessary in our limited power to stop the spread. It is happening no matter how unfair it seems and until we accept it we will not have peace. When we fight surrendering to reality, when we question the fairness, goodness, or logic of each moment – we cripple our own happiness. We, in fact, say ‘no’ to life. We can scream, “But this isn’t fair!” We can call our friends and say, “Can you believe this?!?” We can drown ourself in our worries and complaints, but if we do we will end up so self-consumed in our own feelings we feel stuck in all that worrying and suffering.
We will feel negative emotions when experiences are not what we wished, and we should allow ourselves to feel those feelings. Letting out those negative feelings also liberates ourselves of them. However, prolonged or frequent venting can also leave us feeling stuck.
What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.” -Maya Angelou
When we learn to turn off that little voice in our heads that wants to label every moment and we start living in the present and accepting life’s events, something beautiful begins to happen – we feel more free and we feel peace. When we choose to not react with fear and worry, we discover the power of self control we have over our own emotions. When we open our hearts and minds to life without conditions for happiness, it is as if a weight lifts off our heart. We gain the ability to love life – all of it, the ability to control our reactions, the ability to seek peace, the ability to feel God in our life. It is a truly transforming experience that is right there for all of us when we are open to life without conditions. Although I still have times when my heart closes because things have not gone like I have wanted or perhaps someone has hurt my feelings, when I am open to life I notice surges of happiness when I watch my daughter play and learn, tears welling up in my eyes when I look out over horizon at sunset, an enlightened awareness of nature whenever I hike, garden, or walk along the beach, and a oneness with God that previously I only witnessed in glimpses.
For years I thought the definition of peace was to be in a calm environment or without noise. To seek peace, well that meant to withdraw from the noise and get away from everything. Peace does not mean the absence of noise in your life, it is having a calmness in your own heart through all of life’s ups and downs. Peace is within you.
In this world we are constantly asked if we are happy, when what we should be asking ourselves is “Do we feel peace?” Think of a time you have felt peace – what a beautiful feeling it was. One of the highlights of my life and one of the most peaceful moments of my life, my husband and I were in a room with a newborn screaming baby surrounded by family. Amongst all the noise everything else drowned out and all I could see was his big smiling face with my daughter wrapped in his arms – in that moment there was peace unknown before.
The question is simply “Do you want to be happy?” If the answer is really yes, then say it without qualifying it. After all, what the question really means is “Do you want to be happy from this point forward for the rest of your life, regardless of what happens?” – Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul
It is a time to seek peace, a time for meditation, a time for prayer. No matter what hardships we are faced with, we can ask for a peace that comes from God that is not dependent on our own strength or the situation around us.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
During this time let us remember the peace that God can bring. Restoration of the heart is the deep, abiding peace between us and our Creator that cannot be taken away (John 10:27–28) and the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s work as “Prince of Peace.”
Photo: This past summer I got to hike up to this mountain chapel built in the 1600s overlooking the ancient town of Riez, France. Chapelle Sainte-Maxime still holds services and is home to 4 nuns, (if you listen closely you can even hear them singing certain times of the day.) The hike passes wild flowers, forests, olive groves, and wide open fields with views of the Verdon Gorge. I saw 2 red foxes one hike, a first in my life. I also saw butterflies so brightly colored they did not look real. There is beauty on every path even if the path is hard, we just have to open our eyes.