The pounding, hammering, and whir of the machines felt shocking in light of my expectations.
A few weeks ago I wrote a little about my trip to St. Meinrad’s, a monastery in southern Indiana. I looked forward to a couple of days away focusing on solitude and reflection.
After breakfast, on what was one of the first truly beautiful mornings of spring, I decided to take a walk around the campus. I couldn’t wait to find a quiet place outside to do some studying and enjoy the fresh air.
What do you picture when you think of a monastery? Close your eyes for just a moment and visualize it. I imagined a place where it was extremely quiet everywhere. For whatever reason, I simply pictured a place where sound became nearly muted. The clamoring of the outside world would cease to exist.
I already knew quiet is hard to find, but I held deep conviction that this experience held a rare opportunity.
As I left the guest house, this is what I nearly immediately encountered:
was interrupted with this:
Finding peace outside of ourselves is a nearly impossible endeavor. Things break and need repair. Lawns need mowed. Various machines grace our world performing important jobs. Ambulances, police cars and fire trucks must rush to the rescue multiple times a day, sirens blaring. These things are necessities in our damaged world. Even nature itself can produce quite the racket, like the birds recently at my house at 6:00 or so in the morning.
As I walked, it occurred to me that the only way to achieve peace is from within. I must strive to make my inner life peaceful, because if I look for peace outside of myself I will only be disappointed.
I finally made my way into the church. Surely I would find quiet there. Nope. Someone was practicing the pipe organ. At least it was good noise, so I found a seat and settled in to do some reading. About a half hour in, the gentleman practicing came over to me (I didn’t even know he knew I was there, because I couldn’t see him from where I was sitting). He looked at me and said, “Maam, it’s fixin’ to get real loud in here. I just didn’t want to scare you.” I thanked him for the warning and grinned to myself as the organ proceeded to belt out Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. You know, the one that makes you think of horror movies? I just had to grin to myself.
If we rely on things of the world to calm our spirits, we will walk away deprived. We can travel hours away, spend lots of money, and still leave empty.
For me, in my experience, there is only one source of true peace. John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
If you are struggling in this area, this article has practical examples of things you can do to deal with anxiety and worry. These problems are on the increase and in a world where noise only increases with time, we need to work harder than ever to maintain a positive and peaceful inner life.
What works for you?