“For it is one thing to see the land of peace from a wooded ridge . . . and another to tread the road that leads to it.”
The above quote is taken from Lewis’ Surprised by Joy. Reading through the excerpts I’d copied out of the book years ago, I found myself again awed and challenged by this man’s thoughts and made uncomfortable by what they brought back to my mind – thoughts I often choose not to deal with. There was fodder for any number of posts but most of them would require me to open with topics and in ways I’m not quite prepared to be open with on this forum . . . largely because there are people I know who read this! Perhaps that will be saved for a semi-autobiographical novel one day! 😉
Back to the words above – they struck me – yes, it’s definitely one thing to see the land of peace, and another thing entirely to tread the road that leads to it. And even if we start that journey it’s, again, another thing entirely to allow ourselves to enjoy that land of peace rather than find/create stress or problems where we are and look ahead to what must really be the long desired land of peace.
I wonder if it’s a personality thing – I think it probably is. There must be people out there who are generally satisfied and content with their lives, who feel that they are living in the land of peace, who can look at the problems, concerns, wrongs, offences, stresses, etc. in their lives and still stay in that land. I seem incapable of it, at least consistently. Now don’t get me wrong, there are certainly moments when I feel peace, but most of the time I’m in a semi-state of stress. This may be heightened by the crazy amount of work (paid and otherwise) I have right now – which is great – but even in slow times I find I often find ways to push peace from my life.
I often find ways not to be as happy as I probably could be . . . Now in one sense that keeps me striving toward those things that I desire, but in another it wastes so many of the precious moments I have. And of course . . . thinking of those wasted precious moments does what? Stresses me out! Prevents peace.
Now let’s see . . . what is peace anyway, perhaps I don’t really understand it. My handy Oxford Dictionary says – quiet: tranquility, mental calm; serenity. Yeah – I understand it, and although I have had real moments of mental calm and tranquility in my life (generally while in nature, during a tender moment with one of my nieces or nephews, or dancing in one of those states of ecstasy I sometimes get), for the most part a state of mental calmness is something non-existent for me. I can’t seem to turn my mind off for a moment. I’m analyzing observing, assessing, critiquing, contemplating.
Meditation comes to mind – although I have a feeling I’d have major trouble with that too. But, I suppose it’s probably something that improves with practice . . .
Okay – no great realizations, no answers, only the belief that if I could learn or figure out how to not only see that land but exist in it more I would do better justice to this gift of life I’ve been given.
Relatively speaking, I’m young. From someone who perhaps has more experience than I do, from someone who has figured out how to let peace into their lives – any words of wisdom?
* I think it was actually Augustine‘s quote – which Lewis put in his book
* Another observation as I read through this . . . my moments of mental calmness seem to come when I’m fully engrossed in love – be it something or someone that allows my love of it to engulf me.
* And another addition! – I took the above picture on a walk home from staying at a friend’s house in Daegu, Korea – I was up all night hacking with a horrible cough and left as soon as it was light enough to not disturb her slumber any longer. (Although she was amazingly hospitable and didn’t show any signs of annoyance at the horrible noise I was making all night!) I was awed by the scene and the peace that flooded over me as I took the city’s morning beauty in.