By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published May 28, 2021
“You kids are driving me crazy! This cry of exasperation was uttered regularly by the adults in my childhood world. You see, when the seven cousins got together, we were a force to contend with.
We ran through the house playing tag, we raced around in the yard pretending to be horses and we joyfully made a ruckus. At family gatherings, the cousins had their own table, since the adults weren’t keen on witnessing mealtime chaos.
Sometimes it seems life can be “driving us crazy.” We open the newspapers and see photos of people injured in terrorist attacks, we read about turmoil related to political disagreements and we ponder statistics about a belabored economy—and it’s hard to keep our peace of mind.
But where does peace come from? Why do some folks have an aura of calmness, while others seem frazzled? Here are some pointers that might help.
First, we must accept the life we’ve been given. When it comes to friends, peace of heart is found in accepting them with their frailties and foibles. Some people can give a great deal of affection, while others are too shy. Some will quickly trust us enough to share confidences, while others take more time.
We’ve been given today, but often we lose our peace of heart by fretting about tomorrow. It’s so easy to anticipate a future event with dread, as we imagine the suffering we think is coming. Often, our imaginations cause us more emotional suffering than the actual event.
In “Interior Freedom,” Father Jacques Philippe writes, “It’s better to accept things as they come, one after another, trusting that we will have the grace to deal with them at the right time, than to invent a host of scenarios about what may happen—scenarios that normally turn out to be wrong.” Living in the future means we miss the small wonders and joys of the day we’ve been given.
Second, we must acknowledge that life is unpredictable. It’s easy enough to be peaceful when we’re healthy, when our family is doing well, when our job is secure. But when the wolf is at the door, can we find peace, trusting that God is at the helm?
Some people can encounter a huge disruption and remain calm, because they know the limits of their own power. When a sudden storm developed at sea and the disciples were in their boat, they were terrified, thinking they would die—but Jesus remained calm. He knew he could tame the physical storm, just as he can quiet the turmoil in our hearts.
Third, we can find peace by establishing a regular prayer life anchored in silence.
Through prayer, God’s peace can be experienced even during natural disasters, wars and pandemics. Before he went to his death, Jesus was troubled and afraid, but he prepared himself by going to the garden and praying.
Jesus ministered to huge crowds, but he also escaped to secluded spots for hours of prayer. Keep in mind, however, that the devil showed up in the desert to tempt Jesus, and he will do the same with us. As Dom Lorenzo Scupoli said, “The devil does his utmost to banish peace from one’s heart.”
Peace of heart is a jewel we discover by peeling back the layers of conflict, chaos and concern that may keep us from God. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” But he also said, “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”
The peace the world offers us will come and go with the passing tides. The peace we discover in the heart of Jesus surpasses understanding. This peace remains with us despite storms and suffering, turmoil and trials—and even when the world tries to drive us crazy.
Artwork is by Lorraine’s late husband, Jef (www.jefmurray.com). Lorraine’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.