Today is the first day of the month. This is the day I usually blog about one of my paintings, and then also include a free desktop calendar which contains that piece of art.
I knew the painting I would use for the March Calendar was going to be the one I had titled “Serenity.”
So this morning, as I was driving home from dropping my son off at school, I wondered to myself “what did I really mean when I named this painting ‘Serenity’ after finishing it last autumn??”
Then out of the blue, came a vivid memory. From the summer of 1991.
I was in college, and on a summer musical tour with a group called The Continental Singers. (It was really more traveling than singing, as we spent about six hours a day on the bus and only about three hours a day making music. It was also really kind of cheezey as I look back now, but oh-so-cool at the time!)
Part of this summer adventure took us to Brazil for several days. It is all somewhat a blurry memory by now, some 25 years later, but I still recall our overseas travels were well-seasoned with unexplainably frustrating problems for our otherwise capable sound team.
After spending hours on a tour bus traveling through the countryside of Brazil, we finally arrived at some huge city, assuming it was time to get out and see the sites. Instead of what seemed like a reasonable expectation, we basically just circled around the city. All day long. Looking for new parts for our sound equipment.
In thinking about times of serenity in my life, I remember radiating with an unexpected serenity on this particular day.
We were in a foreign country. We were tired. We were hungry and thirsty. We expected to get off the bus. And yet we circled around. Looking for mysterious sound parts. But for some reason, it didn’t matter.
Serenity means “the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.”
When it finally became apparent to me that this circling of the city wasn’t going to end anytime soon, it was somehow easier to accept.
Why didn’t this unexpected, endless circling bother me? Why wasn’t I internally screaming “let me off this bus!”
Maybe, by that point in the summer, I was just so used to having absolutely no say in my schedule? Maybe I had just accepted the new reality which appeared to be “when in Brazil we spend our days circling the city.”
Or maybe, just maybe… It was the presence of God that day. Filling my heart with a Peace that is beyond all understanding. A peace that comes from knowing in my head, and feeling in my bones, that there is One much bigger than me who is ultimately in control of it all.
Whatever the reason for this unexplained Serenity. It was there. In a big way.
25 years later, it occurs to me that I’m back on that tour bus. Circling the city. Waiting for the next instructions. Not knowing what comes next. Yet filled with a surprising and unexplained Serenity.
When I titled the painting in October —“Serenity” was the very last thing I was feeling. But it was what I was hoping to find.
Five months later, as I sit writing to you from within a sea of boxes that contain more than a decade of my work and memories, I somehow find myself once again, in this unexpected state of Serenity.
And for this, I am most grateful.
Wishing you too — a Peace that surpasses all understanding — throughout the month of March and beyond.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:7