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I used to have a magnet on my fridge with the saying, “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” 

“Being calm in your heart” is not easy work. That is the reason behind this blog. My reflections are an attempt at illustrating how to find that calm while navigating life. On good and healthy days, it means being aware of what is most important, and being attentive to what is in my authentic heart and mind. On not-so-good and unhealthy days, it means zoning out, escaping, and ignoring what is in front of me. 

Each morning, I try to keep certain rituals. I do Yoga with Adriene to connect mind and body, make a strong cup of coffee to wake my senses, read a meditation from Richard Rohr and write a morning page to get my brain going. It is a good start, but as the day moves on, inevitably the noise, trouble, and hard work make an appearance. 

In a November meditation, Rohr quoted Paul Knitter, an author who has written about Buddhist and Christian culture. He said, 

“Our real self is not our individual self. Our individual small minds are really part of a big Mind. Once we wake up to our (true) Buddha-nature, once we realize the Space in which and out of which we live and move and have our being, then nothing, no matter how much it hurts or disappoints or frustrates, can destroy the strength of our inner Peace, of our ability both to endure and to respond to whatever happens.” 

He says, “once we wake up” but for me waking up is ongoing work. 

I don’t have a perfect formula for waking up to my Buddha-nature, but a few things that usually help are connecting with nature, good people, and words – a walk outside, a conversation with a friend, and a poem/book/song/prayer are all reminders of that peace within.

Christmas can land differently for different people, maybe it is a time of reflection and hope or maybe it is the eye of the storm full of noise and trouble. Either way, it is possible to reach for that peace inside, the kind that reminds you of who you really are, what is really important, and what you really love. 

In another Rohr meditation this week, he describes St. Francis’ role in bringing focus to Christmas. His Peace Prayer is one that we sang as children, and I still turn to often.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Peace be with you.

This is part four of an Advent series reflecting on Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.

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