The etymological root of “serenity” is from a Latin root word which is best translated as clarity. To experience serenity is to have a clarity which makes a home for the serenity. It is like the home for rising bread dough which is made by a wood stove nearby. I often make Roman Bread which rises over 16-20 hours. It takes a long slow rise and it requires the right situation – the right warmth.
But from where does clarity come? How does one get this clarity which makes such a nice home for a growing serenity? It comes, in my experience, from how I handle my thoughts.
How I greet my thoughts is so important to clarity because lots of thoughts – all fearful and prickly – are confusing and they squirt all sorts of chemicals into my bloodstream which cause anger, fear, frustration, worry, resentments. And yet the thoughts come – and sometimes they bombard.
]The trick is to greet thoughts with curiosity but not with reaction. Respond to thoughts like they were an interesting bird which just flew into the room. “Oh you – how lovely. Oh you – how frightening. Oh you gain – I know you – you are not true.”
Clarity does not come from being sure – it come from being curious enough to let go of thoughts so that they do not harm us. And when the thoughts are gone, and all you have left is your breath, then,, in that quiet comes an absence of thoughts like the absence of a picketing line of protesters. And then from the internal quiet comes serenity. And in the serenity, God waits to smile. And the smile is worth all the work it took to get there.
Tell me how hard it is to climb a mountain and I will tell you how hard it is to reach and remain in serenity. And how valuable.