More about "The Jolt": Finding Peace when Jolted

A  dear friend of mine read my blog about being so jolted after returning to my work life after our sabbatical. I've been sitting with these words all day and I just wonder now, if these words might not really be an encouragement to you.  What do you think?Peace is not a place. This beautiful quote explains how peace comes and is found."What can you say about maintaining inner peace, and finding it again when we have lost it, in our busy world?—I should start by saying that I wish I myself were better at this. I do travel and it is a struggle. But there is a principle in the Orthodox life: that [tweetthis]peace travels with you if it lives in your heart and isn’t simply a set of circumstances.[/tweetthis] If what I identify as peace is a quiet room, a lack of busywork, a lack of noise, a lack of people, a lack of distractions, it’s easy for that peace to be taken away from me the moment that I’m removed from that nice quietude into a bustling environment. If, however, peace is a condition of interior quietude, where the heart is resting in Christ even in the midst of a city, then you have a peace that cannot be taken away, a peace that travels with you.Now, this is not at all to go against the saying you mentioned. Even St. Anthony, so many centuries ago, said “a monk out of his cell is like a fish out of water.” Yes, of course there are places that God gives us specifically to foster peace, and when we depart from those places—like a monk from his cell, or a priest from his parish, or a husband from his wife—when circumstances force a person to move away for a time from the environment that God has given him to create peace, of course when you go back there are long periods of readjustment to get back what you had lost. But that doesn’t negate the fact that [tweetthis]peace travels with you if it lives in your heart and isn’t simply a set of circumstances.[/tweetthis] This is the peace that we see in the martyrs, who remain peaceful when they are at home or when they are in the arena with the lions; who remain peaceful when they're preaching amongst friends, or when they’re on the pyre and the flames are licking their feet—the peace that passes all understanding, as the Scriptures put it (Phil. 4:7). And that’s what we have to foster if we are to even remain sane in the modern world, because the modern world strives to steal our peace from us all the time. The world is a constant hive of distractions; and if our peace is external, then the world will win. It will always win, in that sad circumstance. But if the peace of Christ lives in the heart, then the world can’t defeat it.How do we attain that peace? We attain that peace by striving to live the life of the Church, praying so far as we can with consistency, every day letting prayer infuse our lives. That’s not to say everyone needs to have a three-hour prayer rule, but whatever one’s rule of prayer, it has to be consistent so that that breath is there every day. Confess regularly, frequently, because that empties the heart of the enemies of peace. It empties the heart of turmoil and torture and pain which prevent peace from residing in the heart. To confess frequently, regularly, to pray every day, so far as is possible to go to the services as regularly as one can, to be compassionate to other people, forgive those who wrong us—these are the things which create peace and which can be exercised anywhere. You can forgive your enemies on the bus just as easily as you can at home, if you, at that moment, in your heart determine not to hold onto your bitterness. So the whole world can be an avenue of gaining peace, if you understand peace to be inward. Of course it’s much easier in the places that God anoints for peace-making—in a temple, in a cell, in a marriage—which is why God blesses those things. It’s why God gives us temples and marriages and monasteries. But God has also created the world, and as much as we distort and disfigure the world, it is still His world. God will use even this fallenness that we have fashioned, for our redemption. [tweetthis]So in the midst of society, in the midst of a city, there’s the opportunity for peaceful hearts.[/tweetthis]"-While visiting Moscow during the month of June, Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg), rector of the Sts. Cyril & Athanasius Institute for Orthodox Studies in San Francisco and an Archimandrite of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, visited Sretensky Monastery for an interview with Father Irenei, a scholar of patristic and early Church studies, is also known as the founder of the Monachos internet forum, dedicated to the study of Orthodoxy through its patristic and monastic heritage, and as the host of the “A Word from the Holy Fathers” podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.