At this point in 2020, I think most of us have heard it said that while we’re all in the same storm, we’re not all in the same boat. That’s true even within families. For lots of reasons, some of us are struggling more than others. But a pandemic is a force to be reckoned with and I know I can’t fix everything for my kids. So how can I best support them and help them find peace in a world that’s filled with social distancing, fear, upended plans, and so many unknowns?
We have a magnet on the refrigerator that says, “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” I’ve always liked that description of peace because my life choices have led to a lot of extra noise and hard work. I mean, I have four kids and two big dogs. It’s bonkers around here and there’s no sign it’ll be letting up any time soon. And I’m cool with that. But the “trouble” part is a completely different animal.
It’s one thing to believe inner peace is attainable in any situation when, let’s face it, most situations we’re in are fairly manageable. Even Tim’s mountain biking accident, which pushed us harder than we’d ever been pushed before, didn’t involve the entire world shutting down. Tim and I have joked that we don’t know if our kids even noticed what was going on because our family and community rallied to take care of them. As difficult as it was for the kids to see their dad struggling, ultimately the lessons they took away from the experience were positive ones about the importance of taking care of each other. Sure, Tim’s boat was in dry dock and mine was being hit by big waves, but theirs were chugging along and that’s all that mattered.
But now? It feels like their boats, which should be running swiftly along in what should be an exciting time in all their lives, are becalmed in the doldrums as they wait and wait for everything to get back to normal. They can’t get this time back any more than Tim could get those months back after his accident, but I still believe they can be at peace in the midst of this trouble and, I hope, will be able to see that this time in their lives still “counts.”
I see glimpses of that deeper understanding. Like the other day when I asked Lily why she never gets too worked up about anything. She thought for a moment, then said, “Stuff bothers me, but I know if I give it a minute, it’ll probably pass.” Lily’s a very wise and practical person and I can’t take credit for that, but I was glad to hear her put into words what we’ve tried so hard to teach our kids—that even if it doesn’t always feel like it, we get to choose what we think. We can choose peace.
Every church Christmas program I’ve ever attended has loud, exuberant moments when the organ and congregation pull out all the stops and belt “Joy to the World!” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” I love those moments, but my favorite is always when the lights are dimmed and we sing “Silent Night.” Often, we sing it as a lullaby for the Baby Jesus and of course, it reminds me of rocking my own babies and feeling the world gently falling away. It’s not as easy now to create that sense of calm for my mostly-adult children, but I can quiet my mind by “giving it a minute,” as Lily put it, and tap into that “peace which passes all understanding.” And then do my best to share that peace with them.
I can find peace in small rituals, too, like lighting a candle and watching the flames dance. Or knitting, which is soothing in its repetition on a simple project or so engrossing that I can’t think about anything else with more difficult ones. I find peace in walks through the woods or along the water, especially my favorite route along South Beach, where glimpses of the Mountain bring perspective and a sense of quiet timelessness. Andrew’s become the king of hot baths and Tim takes nightly bike rides (he captured this beautiful scene on a recent ride) to recharge and tap into that inner sense of calm.
How about you? Is there something that brings you peace?