Tuesday, June 07, 2011


When I detect a beauty in any of the recesses of nature, I am reminded by the serene and retired spirit in which it requires to be contemplated, of the inexpressible privacy of life, — how silent and unambitious it is. The beauty there is in mosses will have to be considered from the holiest, quietest nook. The gods delight in stillness, they say ‘st–’st. My truest, serenest moments are too still for emotion; they have woolen feet.
- Henry David Thoreau in his journal
Serenity is an indicator of inner peace, and thus of wisdom. We don’t want to live boring lives and adventure definitely has a role in a life well-lived, but serenity is an indicator that someone has thought through their life and pursued it with discipline and goodwill. Serenity is an indicator that a lot of other things in someone’s life are working well. They don’t try to take on too much, for instance. They have a margin of energy in reserve. They set aside time for the contemplation of beauty. There’s not much rushing. Hectic activity, desperation – these are not part of a life of serenity or wisdom. Serenity is the outcome of a well-designed, a well thought-through life.

I’m reading a biography right now of Abraham Lincoln and perhaps the most thought-provoking characteristic of his life is the serenity with which he conducted his relationships, even when dealing with dishonesty. Lincoln had a particularly close bond with his stepmother, who is described as having been a constant source of encouragement, support and love to him.

Serenity comes from acceptance, including acceptance of one’s own faults and the faults of others. It may be easier to accept life, including our faults, when we are also comfortable in the knowledge that despite those faults, we are valuable or important to ourselves and to others. Characteristics of serenity:

an unwillingness to judge oneself harshly

an unwillingness to judge others harshly

an absence of conflict

a feeling of connectedness to others and to nature

[June 3, 2011, Heron Dance]

No comments: