I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river…
we sang in Sunday school.
Later, when I had graduated up to Church 102, as a congregation we sang it in the sanctuary and I learned the flying harmonies. It was beautiful; the crescendoes up, the quiet simplicity of the lyrics. At least, I loved it for awhile. Eventually, it got caught in my throat as I found peace to be an illusion.
Have you seen a river? It bounces over pebbles and smashes into muddy banks. Sticks pierce its glass top and leaves desperately cling to it as long as they can, wanting to enjoy the ride a little longer before being swept away to decomposition. There isn’t much peace.
But lately, I have needed peace but didn’t know where to find it. Yes, the world is loud and violent right now. Yet it is more than our current politics and the way we are treating each other that makes me seek refuge more often than I ever have before. It is the constant pings and dings, the asks and pleases, the dinner (God, always the dinner!), and constant movement, trying to keep up.
I needed some peace.
So I took myself to the outdoors, to see what the river had to offer
This time it was a hike just for me, alone with my loyal, droopy-eyed, lethal-tail-wagging dog. It was so quiet and as soon as my feet hit the pine needles, I exhaled loudly. Peace.
My cell phone wasn’t working; I didn’t even have a signal. I could be alone with my thoughts!
I let my mind go. I was so far out in nature, where nothing but God and the sky mattered. I was far away from the crazy human beings who hate and yell and rant and rave and hurt each other.
I was so far away from other human beings. And I didn’t have a cell phone signal.
What if some crazy man lay in wait three miles later on this road less traveled to murder me. Oh.my.god. I would be a terrible TV7 news clip that night…I could hear the reporter, giving her breathless heartbreaking report, lit by police car headlights, about a mother of two who was brutally murdered while out walking her dog…she would end with an ironic clip, “all she wanted was to find peace and it looks like, now, she has the ultimate peace.”
My thoughts are the biggest boulder to peace and calm. I am restless because my imagination and my head never rests. It is an exhausting mind game I am playing against myself. For the record, I am losing, terribly. Mind Games: 1,783 , Allison: 1.
This pervades my life on so many levels. The more I write and exercise my creativity, the worse it gets. I think. It seems to. Or do I write more when my imagination is rampant? You know those writers who are craaaazy and drink themselves into emotionally dull stupors to numb life away? Well, I guess I get it.
Eventually on the walk, I was able to quiet my mind. It took practice and work.My being focused on the foot in front of me, breathing in and breathing out, pulling my mind away from terrible short stories I was composing about my own life. I was learning on that walk. Because here’s the thing: peace takes work. It isn’t innate to us humans. We are primed for struggle. Our DNA tells us that every single situation is flight or fight to make sure we do the most important thing we will ever have to do – survive.
But this is work that we need to pursue. Only by helping our own heads lean into peace and learn how to find it can we step away from the bottle of wine we are clutching Hemingway-style. When our hands are free we have more time to do things like hug and help.
I am not sure what brings me peace at the end of the day, but it usually has to come from inside myself. It has to come from mindful meditation and working to change my natural state of being.
But all said, I know what gets me TO peace: my kids’ hugs, my husband’s kiss, my dog’s body heat, the trees leaning in to protect me, a whistling bird song, and, of course, the river.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.
This week’s sentence is “I find peace from…”
Finish the Sentence Friday is a link-up hosted by Finding Ninee where writers and bloggers come together to share their themselves with a particular sentence. If you’d like to stay ahead of future sentences and participate, join our Facebook group. Link up your sentence prompts below!