By Rev. Jim Innes
My need to be at peace has transcended my need to be creative and useful. It is a different drive and I am not sure if it has been my recent (successful) battle with my health, or the fact I am into my 59th year and am naturally travelling a new path.
There are a number of developmental theories as to why we shift gears and evolve over the years. To simplify some of these, I’d say that for me, I’ve come to realize that being at peace is a quieter more compassionate style of being present to those about me. Working hard to be creative and useful has been anxiety producing and occasionally leads to wanting to control and manipulate… less present and hence less compassionate.
I had felt that creative success (and being useful) would bring it on. But it really doesn’t. Well, maybe a little, but only for a short period of time. John Lennon stated, “Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away.”
I especially like the latter part of this thought. One of my confidants recently reminded me of the scripture… “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” And isn’t that all we really want to feel… God’s love around us all the time?
In my pastoral and personal experience, I have come to know that it is from the warm and safe shelter of God’s embrace, and only from that warm and safe shelter, that we find the will and courage to reach out with any ‘real’ love to others.
Even those who struggle with concepts of a ‘God’, still seek a ‘spiritual’ shelter in which they feel connected and rooted to their beliefs. And, in my mind, it is not until that reserve is found, that anyone can reach out in any meaningful way.
As I see it, before sustainable ‘good’ can be accomplished, we must first find a peace within ourselves. Lao Tzu says this, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” And being present means seeing what truly is and what truly is needed.
We all carry some baggage, and we can so easily get triggered into becoming part of a problem that can spiral way out of control. As one author put it, “people at war with themselves will always cause collateral damage in the lives of those around them.”
Our peacefulness is like a third eye which sees beyond the turmoil and focuses on the heart of the matter. Though some peace is found when we know when to walk away from the nonsense, inner peace does not mean avoiding the noise of life’s everyday. It means being in the center of any storm and remaining calm and centered…. believing, solidly, that ‘all is well and all will be well’…deeply breathing, and staying confidently open and receptive to all the good present.
Inner peace is a long journey of self reflection. It demands a willingness to let go and seek the quiet places where Spirit waits.
Rev. Jim Innes is the rector of the regional Ministry of South Huron.
Featured photo: Eric Didier, Unsplash