A small peaceful presence

The paths of grace and tranquility we travel are small, for peace is not the massive and permanent force of which we've so often dreamed. The word "peace" is burdened with impossible conceptions.

Peace is not a political solution, nor the mere absence of war, nor an earthly state of calm that quells all conflict. Peace is as transient and fragile as we who seek it.

Often, peace is not obvious when it's present. It's so subtle that it can barely be noticed without diligent attention. Peace is as small and quiet as beautiful insect wings on almost unnoticeable flowers. It doesn't care if it's seen — it merely goes its own way at will.

This doesn't diminish peace in the slightest, nor does it make it more difficult to find and hold. Its smallness and stealth make it easier to find. Peace is ever-present if we keep our vision open, attuned to the tiny. With openness, peace becomes our personal tranquility.

We can find peace within anything around us. We can find as much peace and beauty in the minuscule center of one flower as in the extensive nebula of a distant galaxy. We can feel as much wonder and reverence.

The more we realize our smallness and embrace it, the larger the peace around us, and the deeper the tranquility we're able to take in. As we take it in, we find that peace has soft edges, just as kindness does. Peace is as gentle as the whisper of the last spring rain, encouraging pinks and greens to emerge and blend. It does not cut as it turns to inner tranquility.

Right now it's the fall's first rains that have set in, and I listen to grace in the rain, and look for it in the pools of water that gather. If you look with me, you'll see that the pools show us that peace is not one thing. It has many subtle, woven layers. The peace isn't just in the water, but in the ripples on the water. Peace is in the rocks cradling the water. Peace is in the shadow of the trees, as much as in the trees themselves. It's in the former tree, converted to sunken log — surely a home for underwater creatures. Peace is in the invisible life swimming within the water and skimming above it.

As we take it in, the pool also reflects the layers of grace and our inner tranquility. It reflects friendship and family and the pause called home. It shines light on attitude, work and love. Illumination lingers in the way food tastes on our tongues. Tranquility isn't just a retreat into the mountains or our inner self. Its tiny woven layers are as present in the city as anywhere.

It's as important to look for peace to absorb in the city as in the wilderness, because that's where most of us lift our faces skyward most of the time. Serenity is too important daily to be left for our rare moments in wilderness. We need it here, now, whenever and wherever here and now are. Yet if we're patient enough in awaiting its arrival we'll discover again that it's always been here, at and within our feet.

This article is adapted from Eric Alan's new book, Grace and Tranquility (White Cloud Press), for which there is a companion CD with the band Gypsy Soul. He is also the author of Wild Grace: Nature as a Spiritual Path, the writer of the column "Taking Nature to the Streets" in the Eugene Weekly. He can be reached at www.ericalan.com or eric@wildgrace.org .

The Ashland Daily Tidings invites residents of the Rogue Valley to submit articles on inner peace, what is it, what particular path worked and how has it been helpful. All aspects of inner peace such as intuition; guidance; courage; fearlessness; forgiveness; giving and receiving; joy; tolerance; acts of kindness; gratitude; life's challenges of grief, pain, addictions and more are welcome. In sharing, lives are touched in ways seen and unseen. Send articles of 600 to 700 words to Sally McKirgan innerpeace@q.com View previous articles: www.dailytidings.com search on inner peace.

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