On being at peace

April 20, 2021

I love strategic thinking and planning, especially when it’s all about me! I relish taking a personal retreat, carrying one of those huge post-it note flip charts with me. I enjoy spending several days dreaming about the future and crafting a plan to get there.

The last time I did one of those personal planning retreats was 2 weeks before COVID changed our world. I came up with a whole wall full of notes articulating lots of stimulating goals and objectives. I was inspired and ready to take on the next phase of my life, which would include my retirement from 40+ years of pastoral ministry. I packed up my post-it notes to return home from my retreat and never looked at them again.

I eventually threw them all away.

For the past 12 months, strategic planning has been mostly irrelevant. I’ve simply existed as best I could. Many days felt like all the other days. The future was essentially unknowable as infection rates forced us to ride the waves.

But things have changed ever so slightly. “Fully vaccinated” is my cry! In-person meetings have returned. Going out for dinner is a renewed luxury. Going to church is once again our joy.

And, yes, I’m able to dream a bit. But here’s the shocker. Just a few days ago I took a mini-version of my strategic planning retreats. Just me and a clipboard in my basement office.  But, unusual for me, instead of a vast array of impressive objectives, I came up with just one singular goal for my foreseeable future.

I want to be at peace.

That’s it. That’s my strategic plan.

Of course, it took me a bit of time over a few days to arrive at that singular focus of desire. But it is real and feels right. I want to be at peace in my mind, at peace in my heart, and at peace with my world. Even now as I type those words, I feel it…the hunger…within me.

Here is how that hunger for peace feels within me:

I want less achievement and more being.

I want less future and more present.

I want less past and more present.

I want less alienation and more inclusiveness.

I want less condemnation and more mercy.

I want less craving and more satisfaction.

I want less fight and more love.

Perhaps my next step will be to lay out my “3 moves to achieve inner peace” or my “top five personal peace objectives” or my “13 paths to peace”. After all, Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” But for right now I’m fine with a very simple North Star.

I want to be at peace.

iocAnd while I wish that for me, I pray that for you.

 

 

6 Comments

  1. keith y.

    hi dave!

    wow! really resonates with me… just about everything you’ve said (of course, i’m speaking as an enneagram 9!) i just find it curious that this seems to be something that’s going on in many folks…

    may you be blessed with peace!

    keith

    Reply
    • Dave Rodriguez

      Thank you Keith! I’ve also heard similar feelings from a number of people. Right now I think we need the “9s” to lead the way!

      Reply
  2. Tom Prible

    Love this, Dave. I, too, resonate with these desires that you’ve captured so clearly. Our nation feels so hostile and divided right now. So polarized. While I still believe (naively, perhaps) that most of us want to live at peace with one another in the way you’ve described above, the loudest voices we hear are the ones shouting for tribal warfare. So much emphasis is placed upon what ideological positions you hold—and specifically, making sure you adhere to the “right” ones. People feel the need to tweet immediately a response to the latest issue in the news cycle. You’re either in or you’re out, depending on what you say in those 140 characters.

    Most of the “issues” tend to fall along the lines of liberal versus conservative, to some extent or another. If you believe X, the liberals will crucify you; if you say Y, you’ll face the wrath of the conservatives. I know it’s not that simple; there are many moderates who walk a middle line, and there are liberals and conservatives who hold their convictions without denouncing the views of others. But in general, sadly, this is how things shake out. You can embrace liberal or conservative ideology and feel its warm acceptance of you. You enter the circle of belonging; there are always “those people” who are outside—they are the ones who are ignorant, uneducated, etc.

    It’s like David Brooks says in The Second Mountain:

    “Tribalists seek out easy categories in which some people are good and others are bad. They seek out certainty to conquer their feelings of unbearable doubt…Tribalism is connection based on mutual hatred. Community is based on common humanity; tribalism on common foe. Tribalism is always erecting boundaries and creating friend/enemy distinctions… Ideas are combat. It’s kill or be killed.”

    I don’t think it has always been this way, but this is our reality. There is a pressure to make public what you believe (even if you haven’t thought about it deeply) and to present it in a way that concedes nothing to the opposition (even if that means not listening). I’m concerned that this erodes our ability to have constructive, compassionate moral dialogue.

    Writing at the end of a bloody civil war that had exposed and exacerbated stark divisions in our country (that we can certainly relate to today), Abraham Lincoln urged our nation to live “with malice toward none, with charity for all…” I can think of no better message for us today.

    I realize I’ve gone down a rabbit hole from what you shared above, but for me this is what I mourn over our current state of affairs, and I have a deep longing–as you expressed above–to see less alienation, less fighting, less condemnation, and to see more love, inclusivity and mercy. It seems like the journey starts from within, from that deep abiding peace of Christ. And as I learn to be present and live from that place of love, I have the ability to love my neighbor and my enemy and truly spread the gospel of peace.

    I appreciate you!

    Reply
  3. Tom Prible

    Hi Dave! I also resonate with the desires you’ve expressed so clearly here. I experience such a deep longing to live at peace with God, with myself, and with others. I know that the order I just stated is important, for I cannot offer much peace to my wife and my children, let alone everyone else I interact with over the course of a day, unless my soul is at rest.

    Like most of us, I’m shaken by the divisive and often hostile ethos of the United States in 2021. Things feel so polarizing. So much emphasis is placed upon taking positions—and specifically, making sure you adhere to the “right” ones. People feel the need to tweet immediately a response to the latest issue in the news cycle. You’re either in or you’re out, depending on what you say in those 140 characters.

    Most of the “issues” tend to fall along the lines of liberal versus conservative, to some extent or another. If you believe X, the liberals will crucify you; if you believe Y, you’ll face the wrath of the conservatives. I know it’s not that simple; there are many moderates who walk a middle line, and there are liberals and conservatives who hold their convictions without denouncing the views of others. But in general, I think, this is how things shake out. You can embrace liberal or conservative ideology and feel its warm acceptance of you. You enter the circle of belonging; there are always “those people” who are outside—and they are the ones who are ignorant, uneducated, etc.

    It’s like David Brooks says in The Second Mountain:

    “Tribalists seek out easy categories in which some people are good and others are bad. They seek out certainty to conquer their feelings of unbearable doubt…Tribalism is connection based on mutual hatred. Community is based on common humanity; tribalism on common foe. Tribalism is always erecting boundaries and creating friend/enemy distinctions… Ideas are combat. It’s kill or be killed.”

    I don’t think it has always been this way, but this is our reality. There is a pressure to make public what you believe (even if you haven’t thought about it deeply) and to present it in a way that concedes nothing to the opposition (even if that means not listening). I’m concerned that this erodes our ability to have constructive, compassionate moral dialogue.

    Writing at the end of a bloody civil war that had exposed and exacerbated stark divisions in our country (that we can certainly relate to today), Abraham Lincoln urged our nation to live “with malice toward none, with charity for all…” I can think of no better message for us today.

    I realize this is a rabbit hole from where you began the conversation, but hey, that’s the fun of blogs, right? And these things are all so intertwined for me. Like you, I long for less alienation, condemnation, and fighting. More love, mercy, and inclusivity. I mourn the lack of empathy on social media, in the news, and in the court of public opinion. Yet I can so easily judge the “culture” at large that I find myself pointing fingers just as much as anyone.

    To me, that is why it begins within. The peace of Christ must so envelop me, fill me, enlarge me, and satisfy me that I don’t need to be right or be in control or be affirmed by anyone else.

    Thanks for sharing! I appreciate you!

    Reply
    • Dave Rodriguez

      Wow Tom, you have expressed so well my own feelings about all the angst and hate. It took me down a pretty dark path at times over the last few years. I also really enjoyed Brook’s 2nd Mountain book. Have you seen his article in the Atlantic? https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/10/collapsing-levels-trust-are-devastating-america/616581/

      In it he talks about the concept of anomie…alienation from norms…and how that has influenced the run to the extremes.

      Anyway, thank you for the comments. They, too, gave me a level of peace.

      Reply
      • Tom Prible

        Thanks, Dave. I’m intrigued by the article you mentioned; I’ll be sure to check it out!

        Reply

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