Peace. Tranquillity. Equanimity. Unperturbedness. Zen Calm.
We can picture it by imagining the surface of a pond on a windless day. No ripples. No movement.
But then, a famous Christian hymn features the interesting phrase, "Peace like a river." And that's surprising. A river isn't still. It moves. It flows.
When I hear the word 'river,' I immediately see in my mind's eye a wide expanse, big rocks, and hugely turbulent rapids throwing white spray high into the air, and a large raft of unsuspecting tourists screaming for their lives as they're tossed around like a toy, while the fast current takes them toward a quickly approaching abyss, a massive waterfall they'll never survive ... Ok, maybe I've watched too many action movies. I admit it. I can even see the helicopter swooping down to pluck the desperate people from their doom. Peace like a river? No, I'm sorry.
So why do we have that phrase?
Calm water can soon become stagnant. Moving water is always renewed. And that's the key to this image. I live near a big river, the only large river in North Carolina that empties directly into the ocean. There aren't any rapids in sight. There's a calm flow forward. And that's what matters here. A river brings fresh waters, constantly. A river is ever-renewing. A river flows through any point along it. It nurtures and feeds all life along it.
What we want in our lives is renewable peace, a flow of inner tranquillity that will nurture us, no matter what's going on. We need an ever fresh source of inner flow that can't be stopped by worry, anxiety, anger, or fear. The old hymn says, "I've got peace like a river in my soul." So it's possible to get that. And here's my advice during this holiday season. If you have this sort of peace within you, then savor it. If you don't, then seek it. And when you find it, then share it.