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Peace is Possible

Waterfall

Niagara Falls – Ontario, Canada

 

In her charming children’s picture book, Peace at Last, Jill Murphy tells the story of Mr Bear, who tries in vain to find somewhere to sleep in peace. It is packed full of humour and finishes with a surprising final twist. There is also an unofficial video version.

Although endearing to the young reader and quaintly resonant of a typical family household, the message has a serious underlying message about the importance of peace and quiet – of solitude and stillness.

And especially solitude of the mind.

However, for many people, especially children, this kind of inner peace is far removed from their day-to-day experience. Their lives are chaotic, unregulated, routine-less and unpredictable. Their search for peace is far more critical than Mr Bear’s.

For some children, school is their only haven of peace. There, they find the routine, the stability, the acceptance they crave. For such children, peace is more than just happiness – and it is more important than happiness.

It’s serenity.

Nicola Marshall, in her blog post on a similar theme, reminded me of ‘The Serenity Prayer‘:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can –
And wisdom to know the difference.

(attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892–1971)

Peace isn’t necessarily about outer calm in as much as happiness is not about wearing a smile on your face all the time. Rather, it’s the inner stillness that helps us manage our lives in the midst of chaos, trouble, unpredictability and situations that are out of our control. For children, this comes about through routine, stability, a safe environment and – most of all – acceptance.

Are we, whilst running our busy lives, helping the children in our care to achieve that inner stillness – that solitude of the mind?

And – for some of them – peace at last…?