Make Peace With What Is
Dr. Michael D. Thomas
Its been a rainy weekend. I had made plans all week to finish moving our endless stuff out of our old house and be finished with it but the weather had other plans. It has rained in buckets. We haven’t had rain like this in a long time. I walked around in it for a while to see where the drainage goes in a downpour. I made mental notes about it but didn’t come to any firm conclusions. Its tough to move the path of rain water down a hillside.
At the beginning of the weekend, I was firmly decided on moving over the rest of my books. I went over to the old house and began to get organized. Before I loaded the back of my pickup with books I decided to go outside and study the situation. Soggy books would not do. As I stepped outside, the first raindrops immediately hit my face as I turned to the heavens for answers. The fat drops on my face dampened my enthusiasm for moving the books. For just a moment I wrestled with my desire to carry out my plans versus the gathering of dark clouds and rumble of thunder. It struck me that -as fights go, this one was literally a washout. I smiled to myself at my hardheadedness. My wishes do not generally roll back the storm clouds!
A few years ago, I was talking with an English physicist. He and I had a long and rambling discussion about many topics, but one thing he said had stayed with me. He said, Make peace with what is. Those words came back to me as I considered what to do next. It struck me that the plants in the greenhouse still needed to go over to the new house and a little rain wouldn’t do them any harm at all. In fact as I surveyed them, they really needed a drink.
As I drove slowly back to the new house, truck loaded with various foliage, I pondered how many times I have tried to do battle with what is. More than just thinking about the attempts, I also considered how well it had worked. After short consideration, my conclusions were that it had never worked well at all. So much of the melancholy of my youth was a result of the pain from my refusal to accept where and what and who I was. Trying to run away from myself had worked about as well as moving the rain away from my truck bed.
As a human being, I am required to consider my thoughts and actions. I am no leaf, fallen into a stream, carried passively along. I must make decisions and have perseverance. I must work to stay in my deepest heart. I must strive to know my souls purpose and then have the tenacity to carry it out. So there is a time to push, unceasingly avoiding doubt and continuing even when the future is uncertain. And, at the same time, I must be aware when the course I have chosen is no longer appropriate.
My wife, Bonnie says that while most peoples vision tends to be straight ahead, life is full of curves. Over and over we try to push ahead, oblivious to the curve in the road. When we finally realize we must change our course, we shift a few degrees and then head straight forward again, still blind to the next curve.
I had a young friend work with me the past couple of weekends. I don’t see him often but he showed up just when I needed him the most and he helped me more than I could believe. We probably got six weekends worth of work done in two by working together. My friend has had a difficult row to hoe in his life and he is still very much at odds with himself. While we worked, we talked. We talked philosophically and we talked of spiritual matters. I heard myself tell him that one of the most important things I had learned was that you actually get to where you head for. He looked at me like he hadn’t quite understood what I had said. What I mean, I said, is that we are all going somewhere. If you are drifting, you will get to where drifting takes you. If you decide to go to school, you will eventually graduate -if you keep taking and passing classes, that is… If you get in your car and drive, you will arrive at the place you have driven to. I looked at him, Make sure its the place you want to arrive at. He laughed and I continued. Most of the places I have wanted to go to take a long time to get to, and its just now that I am finally figuring out that I am beginning to arrive at the places I set my sights on in my youth.
My young friend is actually young enough to be my son and I told him many things. I don’t really know how much he took to heart. So many things have been told to me over the years. I could only ever use the things that I could understand. Some things I heard took me years to begin to understand. We live in an era of sound bites. We are made to believe that everything important can be summed up in a few words, a catchy phrase. For me, its the words that I have to chew on for a few years that turn out to be the most important. Make peace with what is. This is such a simple phrase and yet it is wearing me down, softening my rough edges, and helping me to find a peace that has long eluded me.
To be at peace with life, with God, with Love, is blessing beyond measure. I had long thought life to be a pitched battle, one that I knew I would eventually lose. But my gradual awakening to the teachings of Jesus has changed all that. His embodiment of Gods essence and the clarity of his teachings directly touches my own heart. Love touches all of our hearts.
I have long been determined to not make my life a tragedy, but for a long time I could see no way around it. Because I spent many years working with dying people, I began to feel that everyone was dying. It was the patients themselves who finally showed me the answer. Over and over, I saw people who really lived, -right up to the last moment they were given. I began to see that if I constantly thought of fear and despair and impending death, that this is where I would reside. I would miss the magnificent opportunity to truly live. I have the choice.
Our time here is limited. I will die, but right now, I am busy living! I cant find peace in everything yet, but I am always working on it. Because I am aiming for it, each day brings more peace, more love, more joy. When I am confronted by unbearable chaos, I still often lose my way. But because I sincerely walk the path of love, I always find a helping hand; reaching out, ready to help get me back on my feet. I trust that I am sustained by God. My job is to be awake to the way God is helping me. The ways of God are infinite. Even after a terrible bout of anger, or frustration, fear, or despair¦I still find Love patiently waiting for me, soothing my soul, comforting me. No matter how many times I lose my way, its okay. Love waits for me. Its my job to open my eyes, to pay attention, to listen. There are innumerable ways that God is. God always surprises me.
In the spirit of ecumenicalism that is so desperately needed in these dark days of inter-religious hatred, I would like to end with a beautiful poem written in the thirteenth century by a wise man who was loved by people of all religions.
whoever you are,
lover of leaving,
(it doesn’t matter.)
Ours is not a caravan
come, even if you have
broken your vows
a thousand times.
come yet again,