Don’t you just love dictionaries? The first definition offered for serenity is always “the state of being serene.” Then some synonyms are provided like calmness and tranquility. For me, being serene goes beyond being calm and thoughtful, beyond tranquility. There is an element of spiritual awareness that emerges, but also a sense of expectation.
This feeling, this state of mind, is part of what I seek when I venture into Nature. In Nature, I can look outward to the wonders of the world and inward to my appreciation of my place in that world. The hectic and mundane fall away, and I am left embracing the moment but also looking to my place in the future. I feel serene at those moments.
Hindus offer the respectful greeting “Namaste,” when meeting anyone: relative, friend or stranger. The greeting simply acknowledges “I bow to the divine in you.” What a great assumption. Madeleine L’Engle—in her daily devotional Glimpses of Grace that I am reading this year–reflected on “Namaste” as part of today’s reading. She stressed spiritual connections as well as responsibility when truly embracing our world. In her words, “God created, and it was joy: time, space, matter. There is, and we are part of that is-ness, part of that becoming. That is our calling: co-creation.”
To me, that sense of oneness with life, that awareness of appreciation and that acceptance of responsibility even an interdependence with all life, is at the heart of serenity. And I find that sense of serenity and peace most often in Nature. These photos are from a day in and around Zion National Park last spring.
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SOME QUOTES ON SERENITY
“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter—a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” Henri Matisse
“Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.” Jawaharlal Nehru
“Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy and serenity/” Thich Nhat Hanh
“Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.” Thomas Szasz
“The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“I think the ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.” Luis Barragan