Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
The words above were written nearly 100 years ago. They are from a larger piece of writing called “The Disiderata,” which is Latin for “things desired.” As I was reading “The Disiderata” through a while back, the line keep peace in your soul seemed to stand out on the page for me, although I can certainly resonate with the labours and aspirations and the noisy confusion of life at the moment, and (from what I have heard in so many conversations) so can many of you!
The time we are experiencing is confusing. And it is difficult. We will all find our difficulties in different areas of life at the moment. We might be struggling with being separated from people, and missing the face-to-face interactions. Or perhaps we are struggling with loss of work, home schooling our children, not being able to freely get out and about whenever we choose, the fear and anxiety of ‘what if I get this virus?’ and the list could go on and on.
Along with everyone else, I am having to learn resilience in ways I’ve not known before. Part of my confusion (perhaps you experience something similar?) is that I am aware that there are ever so many others who are experiencing this current time in much worse situations than I am in. I have wondered if I even have the right to think that I am struggling. However, the struggles we are each facing are real. They are not the same struggles others might be facing. They are our own struggles, and they are just as significant to us as someone else’s struggles will be to them. And we must all learn to wrestle with them and find ways to deal with our struggles that will lead us to the life God wants us to find.
And so, I come back to the line: keep peace in your soul. A few weeks back, at the end of April, I wrote about making the time and place in each day to spend a few moments “be-ing” with God. As I would have predicted for myself, I very quickly (a new record for me - it was the first day!) found I was silencing the reminder alert and keeping going with whatever I was doing when it sounded. Then one day I actually stopped what I was doing, turned away from my computer, and spent a few minutes sitting quietly and focusing on be-ing with God. I could not understand the tears creeping down my cheeks, until the realisation came that my soul was crying out to God. I needed that time, more than I ever realised. I had to find peace in my soul so that I could keep peace in my soul.
Amidst the toil and turmoil, the noisy confusion of life, keeping peace in my soul is what will hold me firmly anchored in my relationship with God. It is what will feed me as I spend my working hours in the ministry and mission to which God calls me, and my leisure hours resting and refreshing. It is what points me in the right direction, that compass that sets my focus toward what is most important. Peace in my soul connects me with God and aligns me with God’s purpose. And that is, after all, the disideratum: the thing (most) desired.
Blessings and peace,