A grand shakeup hasn’t come to America. Chaos seems to be the new norm in Washington. Fortunately, there’s something to draw from to sustain me over the next several years.
“I do not occupy myself with great matters,” the Psalm teaches, “or with things that are too hard for me. But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother’s breast; my soul is quieted within me” (131:2-3).
In December, I spent three nights during Christmas week at the Weston Priory in the Green Mountains of Vermont (Catholic Benedictines) leaving after Christmas service. In January, I spent two nights and left after experiencing the celebration of Sunday Mass at Holy Cross Monastery (Anglican Benedictines) on the banks of the Hudson in New York. Each spiritual retreat was beautiful and very different.
I experienced Holy Sophia the Holy Spirit, the feminine breath of the Creator, at Weston and Holy Cross.
Sophia walked with me at Weston Priory under the stars in to and from the guest house in Vermont. I heard Her voice as She sang with the trees and danced with their branches. She calmed my soul in the cold air as my body shivered walking the dirt road in the Green Mountains to services throughout the day.
I felt Her at Holy Cross Monastery during Mass when worshipers were asked to circle the altar before the consecration of the bread and wine. It was an extraordinarily beautiful celebration of the Lord’s Meal. All were equal and welcomed at the Lord’s Table. I also experienced her in an outside walkway looking out at a huge tree well over a century old.
Job loss, ill child, medical bills, rent or mortgage, student loan debt, missed car payments, caring for an elderly parent, living pay check to pay check, and managing an abusive boss on a daily basis, are among the challenges many face. Inner stillness at any time, but especially during this uncertain period, must be the focus while taking comfort in small joys that can be found in each day.
Folks often think if they move, buy a house, or adopt a pet some inner void will be filled. Frequently, they’re disappointed. There’s always one piece of baggage that has to be taken wherever you go and it is part of whatever you do. Yourself. Unless you’ve anchored your inner wellbeing to some constant, inviolable peace, life’s craziness and disappointments have a way to snatch even small amounts of joy from daily life.
Find spiritual quiet within to be more grounded and you’ll be better prepared to respond, not react, to the social and political challenges ahead. Sometimes being firmly anchored requires the harshness of taking the world as it is, not as you want it, while being persistent to make the incremental and where possible major changes needed. Fortify yourself with being grateful for the things you have and remember to embrace small joys each day whether it’s eating chocolate, drinking fresh brewed tea, visiting a used bookstore, or buying yourself some fresh cut flowers.
Remember, this too shall pass.
Paul P. Jesep is an attorney, corporate chaplain, and former US Government Relations Director for His Beatitude Metropolitan Myfody of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine. He is author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis” and “Crucifying Jesus and Secularizing America – the Nation of Faith without Wisdom.”