Searching for My Carmel-by-the-Sea

My husband wants to take me to Carmel-by-the-Sea on a future vacation. It sounds wonderful, with panoramic ocean views, quaint shops, fabulous restaurants, and elegant inns. Let’s say I liked the idea. It sounds like a place that would be hard to leave – until the money ran out.

The travel brochures describes it as a place of perfection, a place where everyone is polite and gracious, a place where the ugliness of the rest of the world doesn’t exist. That might be the true for tourists, but the residents deal with all the same problems the rest of us do. They just get to do it in a beautiful place.

We can chose to make our lives more beautiful, regardless of whether we live in a resort town or not, and the means to do this is free: the Serenity Prayer.

I have this recorded on a CD by Dr. Emmett Miller (Serenity Prayer) with a thirty-minute drive time meditation. What could be a better time to practice serenity than during my morning commute?

At first, I had a hard time concentrating. My mind wandered off with various thoughts and plans, not to mention the unkind thoughts about other drivers, the ones who cut me off at the intersection without even a glance back, and the guy who passed several of us traveling at least eighty in a forty-five. Yeah, those people. Then I heard the words, “endless mind chatter.” Ouch.

Dr. Miller is right. I do that a lot. No wonder serenity is so elusive. I never shut off the newscast.

As if to confirm my new train of thought (and action) Sr. Joyce Rupp, O.S.M. used this phrase in her devotion for this last Thursday, “Reliving Mental Ruminations, ” that endless mind chatter that keeps me locked in constant agitation and worry. Dr. Emmett addresses that too, with descriptive words. “Worry is a deep channel that all other thoughts drop into.”
It doesn’t help that I rush from task to task every minute of the day, each one finely orchestrated down to the nanosecond in spite of my previous resolve to not do so much in a limited time frame. Who has time to seek serenity, or wisdom when there isn’t much time to meditate? This week I am forcing myself to slow it down a bit more. After all, I don’t have to conquer the world in one day.

The devotion went on to quote Jeremiah 17:10: “I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart.”

I need to keep my mind free of useless clutter so I can hear God’s voice. If I follow His will, then I will know serenity. I will have wisdom to know when to act to change the things I should and when to accept the things I cannot change.

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.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Reinhold Neibuhr


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