Calm and Chaos

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Finding calm in amongst life’s chaos is something that I’ve been learning about lately. A lot of my reading material, conversations, and general day to day experiences have circled back around this theme and I feel a huge swell of gratitude for all the wisdom and encouragement I have encountered on this subject.

I’ve been reading Fearne Cotton’s book, Calm, and her simple, practical, heartfelt wisdom has found me at just the right time, as books so often do. In a time of huge change, my feelings have been strong and changeable, moving in and out of loss, joy, anticipation, stress, nostalgia, exhaustion and more. This book has taught me that it’s ok to let the full range of emotions flow naturally in and out, to accept and express them and let them go. It has also given me opportunities to reflect on what helps me find calm, even in situations that feel far from it. In family life, for example, Fearne encourages us to “embrace the chaos” and lean into the energy and buzz of having a house full of children or others.

I also read something poignant in Simon Guillebaud’s devotional, Choose Life 365:

“During the war years in Burundi, it was a very stressful environment… It was in that context that my Great Aunt sent me a note:

Look around, and be distressed;

Look within, and be depressed;

Look to Jesus, and be at rest.”

This quote immediately made me think of the Bible stories about Jesus calming the storm and about when he and Peter walked on water. In both stories, there was so much panic and fear, until the focus shifted to Jesus, who emanated calm and peace, despite the waves and wind.

Guillebaud continues:

“Two painters were trying to depict their understanding of rest. The first chose a beautiful, picturesque lake scene, surrounded by elegant mountains. The second splashed his canvas with a thundering waterfall, in the middle of which a defiant birch tree reached upwards, bending over the foam. On one branch sat a robin, covered in spray, observing the cascading water either side and beneath it. The first artist’s work more accurately depicted stagnation; the latter’s work more authentically portrayed rest.”

The image of the robin on the branch amid the noise and tumult of the waterfall has stayed with me all week and helped me to find that place of calm within me.

What I have discovered is that the more I focus on finding and noticing calm, the more gratitude I feel too, and the more gratitude I find, the more calm and happy I feel. I identify with that chirpy robin more and more. There’s noise and activity around me, and I’m not immune to the stress and struggle – far from it – but I am learning to appreciate life as it is, with its ups and downs. Sometimes – perhaps often – sadness washes over me, or I feel overwhelmed or weary, but there is an underlying calm that I can find with a bit of acceptance and prayer.

How do you find calm?

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