The hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season can test the patience of the best of us. But as Vincent Pizzuto notes, it also is a chance for us to practice being patient!
Modern suburban life presents any number of interactions or situations that may be interpreted either as roadblocks or as invitations to love, depending on our ascetical posture. Commonplace experiences we have come to accept as necessary evils of modern-day life are in fact schools of love: long lines, crowded subways, heavy traffic, fractured families, hostile neighbors, dysfunctional work places, and so on. If we perpetually experience these things as personal assaults or affronts to our inner peace, then we will never find the interior stillness we seek. ( Contemplating Christ: The Gospels and the Interior Life, Kindle Loc 2241-2244)
If we change our way of looking at the world around us, and stop seeing it as an attack on our inner peace, and rather see it as an opportunity to practice inner peace in the midst of a challenging or broken world, they we might find the peace we want because we will put forth the necessary effort to have it. Reminds me of a comment by chess master Jonathan Rowson who writes:
“You may have already figured out that our inalienable right to pursue happiness is self-defeating. Happiness may be with us, baked into our present moment, eagerly awaiting our grateful acknowledgment, but nothing is less likely to make us happy than trying to pursue it. On this analysis, we are right to desire happiness; it’s just that the predatory process of chasing it drives what we apparently want out of reach.”
We can’t pursue our inner peace, but we can realize it in any given moment if we choose to do so. Every moment is the right time to practice inner peace. Inner peace is not “out there” somewhere, it is within us! We can’t pursue it outside of our self. We have to create inner peace no matter what is happening around us. As we create inner peace, we find externals become less significant. We can’t rely on them for inner peace, rather we have to learn how to establish peace within our hearts and minds and then we can approach the outside world with this attitude. If we manage some success in this, then we can graduate to what St. Mark the Ascetic describes:
“Real knowledge is patiently to accept affliction and not to blame others for our own misfortunes.” (The Philokalia, Kindle Loc. 3627-28)
Not only can we be at peace when there is trouble around us, we can even be at peace when trouble finds us.