Finally, one hour out of the city and the surroundings have become less densely populated, more fertile and lush with green and the air more breathable, more pure! I’ve finally escaped the daily grind, the internal and external noise, ultimately what could be described as, the “madness.” Some of the time this madness is energising, thrilling and even charming, and at others it’s blinding, all consuming and even menacing. It’s at these times I know that I have become a threat to my own personal peace.
And then it’s not just my personal peace that is threatened, it’s my ability to talk about it, promote it, charm the world with its tantalising reality. I come to realise again that peace in my own life is like a resource that can be consumed and almost eradicated, to the point that I can neither serve nor inspire anyone. I’m at this point now, feeling the pain, the desire to give up and SO far from peace. It’s time to recharge.
Our vehicle passes through a small town and begins to climb and climb, until half way up a mountain, it reaches our destination and I exhale in a way that suggests I’m exuding the violence within and replacing it with something far more valuable to my own survival and I’m sure others in my life. But at this point, I’m still far from re-attaining the full value of peace I’ve come to admire. I’ve now got four days to “make the magic happen!”
The schedule is full! Vigils 4:30 am, Lauds 7:30 am, Mass 9:00 am, Midday hour 1:00 pm, Vespers 5:00 pm and finally Compline 7:00 pm, and this is daily. I glance over these words again, because I’m not familiar with most of them or their meaning. We’re at a Benedictine Abbey conducting, for the first time in my life, a “silent retreat.”
Those who know me would describe me as chatty, reasonably lively, passionate about engaging, in short, a typical extrovert, and here I was expected to keep silent! Can you imagine? In any case, far from wanting this to prevent the magic from happening I was attempting to re-cultivate peace in my life in any way I could BEFORE continuing to apply its benefits elsewhere.
If you have been doing this work of peace in your family, your business, your community or your nation, or you’re just starting out, you’re going to need this too. After all, we can’t give peace to others when we don’t carry it within. We need to find ways of cultivating peace in our lives, even ways that are out of the ordinary.
During these few days I was able to identify 3 practices from the monastic, contemplative life that I think, if practiced regularly, will help bring peace to our lives. I’m going to share them with you over the coming weeks. They are: Embracing the Silence, Fortifying Prayer and Meditation and Cultivating Better Rhythms. Each practice promising a way to peace within.