Earlier this week I shopped at Walmart. Usually this is a weekly event, so it has become routine. Nothing special about it.But this week I was beginning to have symptoms of cabin fever—too many days of subzero temps that kept me inside (asthma doesn’t like cold air) had begun to wear on me. I’d missed yoga classes, tai chi classes, my weekly sewing/knitting group at the church. I’d missed a church service. I’d even missed shopping—an unheard of thing for me; I try to avoid shopping whenever possible.
Yes, I’m on the telephone, I have Internet and email, I know how to write letters and mail them right from my front door. But the odd thing is, even though I had contact with friends and neighbors, and could see traffic outside in my street when people went to work, saw kids leaving home for the bus stop one block over—in spite of all this, I didn’t feel a part of that life.Going to Walmart was A Big Deal.
My list was short—I’d loaded up the previous shopping trip a couple of weeks before, because I knew we’d be having bad weather, or at least cold-cold days, and I didn’t want to run out of the things I use most.And even though the thermometer read 5 degrees (-3 degrees with the wind), I bundled up, wore a mask, and parked as near the door as I could without infringing on somebody’s Handicapped space.
What I hadn’t expected—what struck me almost like a spring breeze blowing across my face—was how quiet it was in the store. Even though I was a half hour later than my usual time, there were few shoppers about. Besides that, the aisles were wide again—all the Christmas and other holiday stuff had been removed until the next big promotion comes along.I strolled along, picked out the things I needed, didn’t have to wait for aisles to clear or shoppers to move out of my way so I could get to the shelf I needed.
The same atmosphere prevailed throughout the store. And about halfway around, it came to me—this was a peaceful time.I would never have consciously expected, or even looked, for peace at the Walmart store.
-----As I put away my shopping that day, I thought about peace. What does it mean? Where do we look for it?
When I was younger, I could find peace in a book. You know the kind--a story so absorbing that you don’t want it to end; I was part of that story world and it was a good place to be.Another place where peace resided was in music—listening to records (we’re talking ancient history here), playing the piano, dancing around (with nobody but the dog and cats to laugh at me).
|North Oregon Coast - September|
I have found peace in nature—at the ocean, with waves hurling themselves up on the beach; in the desert Southwest where you can see for miles, literally; in a Midwestern garden full of flowering plants and birds and buzzing bees.And a place I never thought peace could be found—a big city, like New York or London—in a cathedral where the dome rose high above us, and the sheer magnitude of the place dwarfing us into near-insignificance.
In my own home, I can make time disappear and peace fill my soul just by looking through old letters from friends and relatives long gone, or photographs of my children when they were tiny, or a long-forgotten silly greeting card that reminds me of the person who sent it and how we shared the same quirky sense of humor.-----
Many years ago my youngest daughter gave me a big mug that I use for my daily tea. On one side is printed this message:
It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise,
trouble, or hard work.
It means to be in the midst of those things and still be
calm in your heart.
Peace is to be found where it has always dwelt—right inside us.Today I wish you peace.