I like doing things. I’m a doer. I am such a good doer, in fact, that sometimes I pack my schedule with things to do until I am almost frantic. And then I make the mistake of thinking that my worth is tied up in how much I accomplish. I want to leave a mark I guess, which is understandable. It’s one way to deal with how scary it is to know that we are all going to die.
Most of my spiritual practices (yoga, running, prayer, meditation to name a few) address this edge in me and work to combat the misconception that God will love me more and I will be happier if I do more things. “The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real heroes are the people NOTICING things, paying attention,” writes John Green in The Fault In Our Stars. The universe wants to be noticed. My spiritual practices help me stop doing long enough to pay attention and notice the universe.
One of my spiritual practices right now is taking a few minutes every morning and reading from Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much. A friend gave it to me in high school, and I recently found it in a box and started using it again. She wrote on the inner cover, “The minute I saw this I knew it was for you. You’re the busiest person I know. You simply care too much about people that you are in charge of too much. I hope this gives you some sort of serenity. I know you are under a lot of stress right now, but things will get better. Merry Christmas 1997.” I was seventeen. Now I am thirty-three. Addressing my need to do too much has always been my work.
The other day the meditation was about serenity. It goes like this:
“The silence of a shut park does not sound like country silence; it is tense and confined.” –Elizabeth Bowen.
When we are not really dealing with our disease of doing too much, we are often silent and not serene. We had only shut up for awhile and are still “tense and confined,” like a city park shut off from activity.
Serenity is more like having a “country silence” within. Serenity is an acceptance of who we are and a being of who we are. Serenity is an awareness of our place in the universe and a oneness with all things.
Serenity is active. Ot os a gentle and firm participation with trust. Serenity is the relaxation of our cells into who we are and a quiet celebration of that relaxation.
I like the idea of serenity being an active participation with trust at the cellular level. It takes work, not frantic work, but spiritual work of committing to real inner peace. The kind of peace that leads to the ability to live in a way that we can notice and appreciate the universe. We can feel the love of God and let go of the fear of dying. We can do or not do trusting that our worth does not depend on it.
Today I am working toward country silence inside of me.