Someone commented yesterday how wonderful it would be to be able to calm the mind, to be completely free of thought or worry.
Lest anyone think that that is the case with me, let me assure you it is not! I don’t think it is true of anyone. If the expectation is that with our spiritual practice we will be completely free of thought of worry, we will be disappointed. However, if we practice calming the mind, meditation, etc we will have tools at our disposal which will help us calm the mind and go to a place of greater peace and centeredness. Is it complete calm and peace? No. But our practice gives us a door, an opening into a deeper dimension of stillness, beyond the chaos of mind or life situations. And this can lead us to a place of greater peace. And when the storm comes, it’s best to have some tools at our disposal! In other words, we don’t have to stand completely powerless in the face of storms in our lives. Our spiritual practice, 12 Step work, therapy, religious faith – all of these are tools that we can pick up at a moment’s notice and use to deal more effectively with life’s issues.
The important thing is that we maintain some sort of spiritual practice CONSISTENTLY. Then, when we need it, it will be more of an ingrained habit, to which we will easily turn. Do these tools have immediate results in calming me? Sometimes yes. But most often, it is a process where calm and focus gradually takes hold. It’s like having a secure anchor to grab on to, or firm ground on which to stand. The storm may be raging around us or within us, but these practices provide a point of grounding in the midst of the storm. Do they immediately take the storm away? Not usually. But the grounding itself gives cause for hope and gradually opens a door to greater peace and clarity.
Today is the feast of a famous saint whose prayer of peace attributed to him is prayed by Christians and non-Christians alike. Francis of Assisi was a man who experienced many storms in his life and in the world around him. Yet he continually drew himself and his followers back to a quiet place within – as well as BEING the peace that he wanted to experience. “Make ME an instrument of your peace . . .” In so doing, we gain the peace that we impart to others.