serenity : – the state or quality of being serene; the absence of mental stress or anxiety
I’ve been captivated by the word “serenity” for many years now. Ever since reading the novel, “I take thee Serenity.” While the book focuses on a couple – Peter and Serenity, trying to make wise choices in a busy, modern and changing world, it was the peace, the calm that the backdrop of Serenity’s family and community provided that captivated me. And actually even just the word – serenity.
Serenity, back then for me, elbow deep in University text books on the Industrial Revolution, Middle English and Accountancy, seemed an elusive quality. Fast forward to today, with our technological advances that puts you in contact with your workplace 24/7, the emphasis on being busy equating to success and serenity seems even more elusive. Something relegated to a bygone era as much as the novel is now.
Serenity possesses the hope of peace and calm, tranquillity in a busy, noisy world. The question, the challenge is, is it obtainable? Is it achievable? In a life that has us at best jugglers, can we be serene? Actually, if I take the analogy of jugglers a bit further, I can’t say I have ever seen a juggler looking agitated, stressed or panicking as various items from skittles, plates, torches of fire even are juggled. Ok, most have a clown’s face or smile plastered on, but they don’t seem to be sweating through the paint! In the midst of it all, they’re at peace. Calm.
Peace is the key to a life of serenity. And while it is often defined as the absence of trouble, the peace that we can have is much more than this. It is unrelated to circumstances – good or bad. In fact it is unaffected by our circumstances. It is a peace that can be had in the midst of trials or the busyness of life in the 21st Century. It is a gift, given to us by Jesus Christ. It is a peace that can actually influence our world around us. But to enjoy this peace, we have to let it rule – let it breathe in our lives.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” (Colossians 3:15)
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
I see her every day as I wait for my boys at school. She lives just up the road from where I wait. And each day I see her stroll to meet her kids. It’s the stroll that intrigues me. It’s languid, easy and relaxed. But it’s still a stroll with purpose to collect her children from school. I sit in my car slightly envious of her unrushed walk. I don’t know her back story or how her day has gone, but she consistently appears to be one unrushed, unharried mum. I see others too, quite the opposite juggling an uncooperative toddler or powering up the hill at double speed as the bell has already sounded.
There’s something to be said for being unrushed. Still purposeful, but unrushed nonetheless. A life of serenity really. Later that night having had a busy early evening on the home front, I headed off to Church for a speaking engagement. I was feeling somewhat rushed, and was using the drive to transition from the mum overseeing homework and putting the boys to bed to speaker / teacher. Unconsciously though, I found myself singing “Be still and know that I am God”. That’s when I realised my soul (my mind, will and emotions) was definitely rushed and somewhat stressed, but my spirit was not. My spirit was at peace and my spirit was working at calming my soul down.
I have a choice, I can let me soul rule or I can let my spirit rule. Our spirit is in constant communion with God. It is at peace. It is our spirit that radiates the light of God. As Kris Vallotton once wrote “you will always reproduce the environment around you that you cultivate within you.” If I want that unrushed, serene walk, I need to ensure that that I am cultivating peace internally.
So watch out for me at the School gate – I’m the chilled out one…well the trying to be one anyway.