Where do you find your peace?

More often than not, I find myself to have a continual stream of thoughts flowing through my mind as I try to sort out different threads and streams of information and life situations. I see the solution to one ordeal and put it to rest only to have another pop up and quickly execute another defensive maneuver to quell the situation.
In college days a friend that we merely referred to as Doc Fuller mentioned the idea of defragging the mind, letting it sort things out without additional inputs. At the time I didn’t quite understand what he meant in terms of limiting additional inputs, only thinking to myself that it would be beneficial at time to stop running around constantly and taking on additional efforts to help others out.
The world we live within tends to be materialistic in nature – not too surprising considering that we tend to strive after those things that would bring us profit, spoils of some sort (think Pirate spoils, arrrrrgh), influence or carnal gratification. As broken people we tend to seek out one of these hoping to attain peace, though like a sparkler or the phosphorus of a match head, it gleams only momentarily before extinguishing itself.
So how and where do we find peace?
Some would say that peace can be found in a place – I would agree in some respects. Though I would argue that peace is not necessarily in the place, but that it can be conducive to helping one find peace. When the mind is strained in several directions, having inputs and interactions limited may help, however the internal processing of the mind and soul is at capacity such that it can work through thoughts – peace has not been attained, though the mind is slowly working toward that. And yet, I find myself leaving to go to Nashville, TN, Birmingham, AL and Atlanta, GA recently and while there was a great sense of peace being away from the stress of work and family life, peace was not necessarily attained.
Others may quickly jump up and state that peace is a thing.
I started to think this, letting my mind think that a new television or maybe a new car (wow the Maxima sure is a hot car) would bring that peace. Unfortunately such a new item or a toy is merely trading peace for short term contentment. We’ve all been there, excited that the new gadget is on its way via UPS or Fedex, or we’ve looked it up online, done a little research and found the best bargain to quickly go out and procure locally.
Perhaps peace can be found in a person?
I struggle with this myself as someone that is single, thinking to myself that only if I were dating someone then I would have peace. I remember in high school in college friends of the female gender having such a tendency, always looking to date someone rather than being detached. While there is definitely Biblical teaching that would point out that man and woman are meant for one another, helping, assisting and growing one another in the Lord’s teachings, I think that we need to first realize that relationships while they provide someone to lean on do not in and of themselves bring peace. How to deal with this of course is yet another question that can merely be answered in that a significant other may care for you, they in and of themselves as a physical being cannot provide peace.
More recently in the past nine months, I’ve come to the realization that peace is something that is fleeting and can only be attained through the discipline of the mind and the soul. While I have not necessarily become a master of attaining this peace – the fallen nature of man preventing me from maintaining constant focus, I do have to say that meditation on scripture definitely has a way of bringing peace to the soul. Much as Isaiah 26:3 states, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Hopefully this doesn’t sound like some sort of Zen, but at the same time it is quite true, focusing and meditating and remembering He who created us, clarity and focus of mind seem to become evident and the stressors and detracting scenery melt away.
Where do you find your peace?

Written while listening to Break of Reality

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Daily ponderings…

This past week I took a roadtrip of the Southeast to go to a technology conference (DevLink) and to hang out with some great people (Becky, Cathy, Rob, Eric, Kevin, Laura, Lori, Andrew). It was a blast, very relaxing and uplifting.

I ended up going from Nashville to Birmingham to Atlanta and home again. It provided for a lot of time to listen to music and to just think – something that I’ve need some time to do with the crainess of life. I’ve finally realized (and yes, all of you that have been hitting me over the head, fine, you’ve made your point) that no one is looking after me (‘cept for maybe Mom up in heaven?). In as much, I’m starting to wonder why for so long I’ve worked so hard to care for others, constantly putting them first rather than looking after myself. I’ve let the days slip by one by one, the seasons drifting by like a leaf to the ground, slowly wading downward occasionally caught by an updraft prolonging the inevitable crashing to the surface and being trampled upon.

It’s not that we shouldn’t care for others, we’re commanded in the Bible to love one another. But gaining a little perspective on life and seeing things from 600 miles distance, I realize that most people are very selfish – why should I be the pinata that they’re constantly hitting with a wiffle bat?

Nonetheless, over the past few months I have come to realize more and more the value of life and how we waste it so aimlessly and trivially. I’ve pushed myself out of my regular ways, realizing that I need to embrace life and those that I consider loved ones nearby.

They say you only live once. What will your life’s legacy display? Will you have lived a life worthy of tales or will you look back wishing that you had left a mark only to realize you only be known as the servant of others?

Peace…

photoSo I’ve been visiting Arlington Cemetery pretty frequently these days, mostly on the weekends since I finally went and applied for a family member pass in person. I’ve been leaving flowers at Mom’s tombstone and always smiling the following week when I return to find that the grounds crew has taken them away. I’ve left a variety of things, from roses to carnations to gerber daisies, trying to mix things up so that there’s always a little something different, perhaps next time I’ll do magnolias. Anyway, I’ve at times wondered when they do the grounds keeping and what they do – do they take flowers that are perfectly good and toss them or do they take only the wilted flowers or are the flowers taken by animals that visit the tombs at night? I see the grounds keepers driving around in their trucks and other golf cart like vehicles, but have never actually been there while they’re doing any of the actually grounds keeping or mowing of grass or anything. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably just not there at the right time of day to see them hard at work keeping the grounds looking magnificent as they do.

photo 5Nevertheless, as I mentioned, I recently took some flowers over to Mom’s tombstone and laid them to rest there. Just a grouping of carnations from the Flower Den flower shop in Annandale, Virginia – okay, so I’ll admit I’m not really sure where this is based on the fact that it’s Bradlick Shopping Center which is on the cusp of Annandale, Alexandria and North Springfield (all within Fairfax County). I continue to go in there to purchase flowers and they always ask me if it’s a different occasion, sooner or later they’ll clue in that it’s always for my Mom’s tomb – unless of course my life suddenly changes and there’s a significant other (okay, rabbit trail, at the moment there isn’t but you never know when God is going to change your life eh?).

photo 6On Sunday afternoon, my Uncle Bobby from Atlanta, GA called to let me know that he had arrived for his visit and if we could go over to Arlington National Cemetery. I told him that I would be glad to take him along, not mentioning that I had left flowers the day prior, but figuring that he would realize as such with the flowers there on the ground next to the tombstone. As we got closer to the tombstone, walking up from behind it, we could see that the flowers had been moved, but we couldn’t really see the flowers. Alas, as we got to the tombstone, we noticed that the flowers were only stems and missing the flower petals and bulb – someone had a good lunch 🙂

So the lesson learned in all of this was that even though we may leave flowers for Mom, they may only really be around for a day before the deer find them for their next meal.

All in all, I still find this place to be incredibly peaceful. There are the occasional airplanes taking off and landing from Reagan National Airport, but compared to anywhere else on this planet, this seems to be the best place to just go and breathe in some fresh air and let my heart’s guard down to talk.

If you’ve never been to Arlington National Cemetery, I encourage you to go, and check in to see my Mom, she’s in section 64.