Wednesday, January 18, 2012


The New Year in Southern Virginia
This photo and those following,  by Jeweli Hockensmith 

It seems that living in peace and quiet has become an almost unaffordable luxury to many of us.  A columnist in our newspaper today wrote about his visit to a float tank.  Never heard of that? Nor had I.  Two gentlemen have purchased these and opened a business in a local shopping center.  It seems that for $80 an hour you can shower, turn off the lights, get into a swimsuit (or go without), and get into one of these coffin-like tanks and float in heavily salted water, achieving an almost weightless state of being.  The columnist agreed that it was indeed a very peaceful, quiet and soothing experience, but lamented at the end of the column the fact that to achieve this incredible "lightness of being", he had to steal time from his busy schedule, drive through congested traffic to a busy strip mall and pay 80 dollars just to enjoy an hour of peace and quiet.  What is wrong with our lives, was the implied question.

Such is the condition of modern life for most, I suppose.  Is it any wonder that so many poor souls end up trying to achieve an artificial state of well-being by using substances?  Is there a way, realistically, to have our lives centered in peace and quiet in this hyper-drive world? Jesus said that in this world you will have tribulation, but that He has come that you might have peace.  Peace of heart and mind, soul and spirit.  Even in the midst of tribulation.  Even the soft-core kind, like deadlines and heavy traffic.

This peaceful, quiet life starts in the interior of  your being, when you invite Christ in, and let Him lead you in all things.  Sounds so easy, but I know lots of folk cannot imagine what I mean.  Well, when I surrendered my life to Christ at the age of 19, and following my wild teenage years, I felt an inner joy begin to permeate my being, and all the hills and valleys of life seemed to even out.  Everything for me took on a simplicity, like finally being able to focus the lenses on binoculars and see everything which once was hard to discern with sudden clarity and color.  My choices seemed like "no-brainers", and in following my beloved,  I naturally chose what was good and peaceful for my life, not even being aware of having to make a conscious choice most of the time.  For example, I no longer craved parties and drinking; I didn't have to make a deliberate decision to give up these things, I simply lost interest in them and ceased to think about them.  I obeyed because I wanted to.

When you are so busy in your relationship with Him that you naturally soak up His word and enjoy being with like-minded people, you tend to see what kinds of things lead to peace in your external life as well.  For instance, I purposed in my mind that when I would be married and have children I would give up the extra money a job would bring.  When that happened, my life was automatically so simple.  I remember holding my first baby, listening to the afternoon traffic report of the kitchen radio, and thanking God with much joy that I was home and not sitting out on the hot, congested highway, with its exhaust fumes and fuming, exhausted motorists trying to get home!

My supper was on the stove, and my baby was in my arms, and for me, God was in "His heaven" and all was indeed right with the world.  We were living in Navy housing, with all white walls and linoleum on the floors, but for me it was the Taj Mahal!

This is what I wish for all mothers and their children.  The men are emotionally equipped to get into the fray each day as long as they can come home to a safe haven where they can retreat and recoup, and this is what I wish for them.  A wise woman understands this and gives her man some space to let him do just that.  I know that days at home can be long and arduous, but if a wife will let her husband come home and be pampered a bit, he will love and appreciate her and put her above all else.

Everybody needs peace and quiet.  My mother always admonished me to make life simple for myself, to attend to my own business, and not go out of my way to make it hard.  Come up with a system for doing things, was her advice to me, don't take on more than you can handle, and make sure you get a little rest and recreation for yourself.  

Well, without that second income, most likely you will not have a lot of money to spend on a large or fancy house, and so you can handle the upkeep better.  Less space to fill, heat, cool and clean.  There is peace in that.  Doing most of your own work and repairs, taking care of your children if you are blessed with them, offering hospitality and being charitable as the Lord leads, are all things that make for a need to order your life well, and also make for an early bedtime!  That results in peace and quiet at the end of the day.

Just like the old kosher laws had a practical and health-promoting aspect to them, living a life like I have outlined will be in accordance with how our bodies function best.  I have read recently that women who go to bed by 10 p.m. each night substantially cut their breast-cancer risk because the protective/repairing hormones and inner workings of our bodies are in full gear during the hours between ten and midnight.  Haven't you ever noticed how much better you feel if you sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., than if your eight hours of sleep go from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m.?  There really is something to this, I believe.

I am truly sorry for those who unnecessarily put stress and misery into their lives by overwork and too much busy-ness.  I say unnecessarily because folks will always list all the reasons it is so necessary to live (can you call it live) like this, but most of their "have-to's" are simply their own preferences.  Things like having to have a new car(s),  huge TVs and sound systems, dinners and drinking out on the town, designer clothes, I-phones, and the like. Or they have to keep themselves stirred up by all the news and politics or the lives of the celebrities.  You are not a bad person for wanting all of this, but if you have to have these, then you are choosing to let go of some freedom. And peace and quietness therewith.  

It helps, at the beginning of the year like this, to sit and kind of take stock of things.  What things in our lives are depriving us from the life-giving peace and quietness we crave?  Do we find we do not have time to step out of doors for some fresh air and have we forgotten to simply gaze at the night sky?  I found myself up at 5 a.m. New Year's morning, cleaning up the kitchen and putting things to rights as well as tending to my infant granddaughter who lives with us, and at one point I stepped outside to shake out a tablecloth.  There,  just outside my backdoor, in the still and silence was the crystalled universe itself!  Above the darkened windows and frosted rooftops the tall trees stretched their bare and graceful arms to the heavens crammed with countless, twinkling stars!

It may seem like such a trivial thing to you, but to me it was one of those moments when you know that God exists, and even if you were the only living being in His universe He would have made it all just for you, causing you to be filled with such awe and joy that you just have to stand there and receive!

I wish these kind of moments on the whole world, and may you possess the peace that passes understanding now and always.