“Rather than being a seeker, be a finder.” (Ascension Tests, Jim PathFinder Ewing (Nvnehi Awatisgi))
Spiritual growth, with its familiar turf of fear, confusion, uncertainty, excitement and wonder, eventually, through your renewed connection with the Divine, leads to serenity. A time of greater peace and tranquility. The kind of faith that welcomes miracles. Thomas Merton gives us the story of his path to serenity in his spiritual autobiography THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN (1948). Merton’s quest for peace led him to take vows in an extremely demanding religious order – the Trappists. Although he entered this organization at the young age of 26, he had, by then, been fully engaged with the ‘real world.’ :
“And now the sun was up. It was shining on bare, rocky valleys, poor farm land, thin, spare fields, with
brush and a few trees, and willows growing along the creeks, and grey cabins, from time to time, along
the line. Outside one of the cabins a man was splitting a log with an axe and I thought: that is what I will be
doing, if God wills it, pretty soon.
It was a strange thing. Mile after mile my desire to be in the monastery increased beyond belief. I was altogether
absorbed in that one idea. And yet, paradoxically, mile after mile my indifference increased, and my interior
peace. What if they did not receive me? Then I would go to the army. But surely that would be a disaster? Not
at all. If, after all this, I was rejected by the monastery and had to be drafted, it would be quite clear as to God’s
will. I had done everything that was in my power; the rest was in His hands. And for all the tremendous and
increasing intensity of my desire to be in the cloister, the thought that I might find myself, instead, in an army camp
no longer troubled me in the least.
I was free. I had recovered my liberty. I belonged to God, not to myself; and to belong to Him is to be free, free of all
the anxieties and worries and sorrows that belong to this earth, and the love of the things that are in it. What was the
difference between one place and another, one habit and another, if your life belonged to God, and if you placed yourself
completely in His hands? The only thing that mattered was the fact of the sacrifice, the essential dedication of one’s self,
one’s will. The rest was only accidental.
That did not prevent me from praying harder and harder to Christ and to the Immaculate Virgin and to my whole private
litany, St. Bernard, St. Gregory, St. Joseph, St. John of the Cross, St. Benedict, St. Francis of Assisi, the Little Flower and all
the rest to get me by hook and by crook into that monastery.
And yet I knew that if God wanted me to go to the army, that would be the better and the happier thing. Because there is
happiness only where there is coordination with the Truth, the Reality, the Act that underlies and directs all things to
their essential and accidental perfections: and that is the will of God.” (pgs 406-407)
Merton had found his serenity before he entered the monastery, but, not before he had struggled intensely with his inner demons and his restless nature. Merton avoided the mistake that many of us make. Many of us believe that our life has to be problem free before we can be happy and peaceful. However, the opposite is actually true. First, we work toward inner peace, and then our life challenges begin to lessen and disappear. Tranquility is our natural state of mind when we feel no separation from our Source. We can always call on our angels to help us to achieve serenity. With their help we can feel peace, even during times of great turmoil. We do not have to follow Thomas Merton into a monastery to find peace, unless of course, we wish to. However, time alone in silence, preferably outdoors with nature, affords us the opportunity to surrender to Spirit and to ask for our problems to be illuminated. In solitude and silence it becomes easier to realize the transforming power of God. Our culture tends to favour multi-tasking and auto-pilot behavior that keeps us out of the NOW where serenity abides. Shifting into the present and completely out of the past and future gives us the opportunity to surrender to the moment and to experience peace.
What is inner peace or serenity? Is it the same as happiness? Eckhart Tolle says it is not: “Happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive; inner peace does not.” Tolle teaches us that peace is beyond happiness and unhappiness. Tolle quotes Marcus Aurelius who wrote (over two thousand years ago) “Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?” Tolle comments (THE POWER OF NOW) that Aurelius was “one of those exceedingly rare humans who possessed worldly power as well as wisdom.” Accepting ‘what is’ reconnects you to your Being (since mind and resistance are synonymous) and then – you can choose to respond, rather than react. Respond from your Being which is always connected to your Source rather than a knee-jerk reaction from ego. Our egos are very fearful and not at peace because they are always ‘on guard’ protecting our physical self and therefore anticipating pain and suffering and often lashing out in offensive attacks or defensive maneuvers.
Saskia Davis lists for us the symptoms of inner peace:
“A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than acting on fears attached to past experience.
An umistakable ability to enjoy the moment.
A loss of interest in judging other people.
A loss of interest in judging self.
A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
An inability to worry ( this is a very serious symptom!)
Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
Frequent acts of smiling.
An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than to make them happen.
An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.”
I KNOW you can relate to these. Doesn’t it feel wonderful to be loving yourself into peace and tranquility? To be aligning with the Will of your Source and making your self-honouring choices that lead to serenity? Congratulations! You are moving into a time of greater inner peace.
Love & Light, Monica