The Gift of Peace

                       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.

Its Christmas!  Time to celebrate the birth of Christ with family and friends - time to sing and dance, and make merry, with gaily wrapped gifts, festive foods and beverages.  Most of us barely have time to breathe, with decorating, shopping, and baking on the agenda.

But, along with the merriment associated with Christmas, there is often some sadness too.  The sentimentality of the season, makes it very hard to bury the melancholy felt for loved ones, mourned in death, or separated from us by estrangement, or other circumstances.  Some grieve for opportunities missed, or dreams relinquished, unfulfilled.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at at time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Christmas-time (Advent) is a season filled with expectation, on both the spiritual, and secular levels.  While children await the arrival of Santa, their parents spend weeks preparing for the main-event.  Its easy to feel under-appreciated if the response to our effort to produce the perfect Christmas for family and friends, is anything less than overwhelming.  People-pleaser that I am, I admit to feeling a bit sorry for myself each year, whilst sitting amongst a pile of spent wrapping paper, and a kitchen full of dirty dishes.  Foolish, I admit.

Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it

So what's the cure for the holiday blues?  A first-step, is admitting they exist, and cutting yourself, and your loved-ones some slack.  I'm not advocating wallowing in self-pity, guilt, remorse or regret, but lets face it, the holidays can be a funky time for all of us.  We are after all, human, and subject to human emotion.  Go ahead and grieve if you want to.  Have a good cry, and put your feelings into perspective.

Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will;

Then, give your soul the gift of peace.  Put your worries, expectations and anxiety to rest.  Newly married, with small children, I'd run a tub of hot water, light a candle and turn off the lights.  Sitting there in silence, breathing in the steam from the bath-water, made the world melt-away.  I could feel my heart beat.  What a relief!

Later, as an evening-school administrator in a Catholic parish, I'd slip into the sanctuary after work, and sit in one of the creaky, wooden pews, close to the altar.  The old church smelled of holiday incense, and lemon furniture polish, which was comforting in a familiar way.  The filtered light from the streetlights beyond the gothic, stained-glass-windows, cast a knowing-glow upon the worn faces of the century-old, hand-painted statuary, making the figures appear to beckon me to unburden myself.  For a time, I found great solace and serenity there, under the watchful eyes of St. Rose of Lima.

Last week, I took a day and drove north to our cottage which has been closed and devoid of heat, for the past month.  I didn't need to go inside.  A simple walk around the grounds was all I required.  There's comfort in the knowledge that some things remain the same - the towering dark green hemlocks standing protectively over the little dwelling - the winter wind rushing through the treetops on the ridge line above - the icy water flowing swiftly through the frozen creek-bed below.  I sat for a few moments at the waters' edge, remembering warmer days, starlit nights, and laughter. God exists!  I just needed a little reminder.

That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him, forever in the next.  Amen  

The gray skies seemed a little brighter, as I drove back to the city that day.  By taking those few hours for myself, I managed to put the blues behind me, and felt ready to start celebrating again.

The Serenity Prayer was written by R. Niebuhr and published in 1951.  It is used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs. 


  1. such sage advice to all to take time for ourselves and to search out the silence of this holy season. Hard to find? yes. Impossible? never. And that is coming from a mom of 4 boys!!
    Wishing you peace, love and joy this Christmas and always...