Peace. It seems especially hard to come by lately. Each day’s news stories give the impression that peace is an unachievable phenomenon. Shootings, racial tension, campus violence… with each passing day the situation appears to grow more and more grim. Peace just isn’t a priority.
In my own life, peace is hard to come by as well. I’m constantly moving, planning my days away with work, commitments, and activities that little time for personal reflection. When I’m alone, I sit in my living room and listen to the constant honking of cars at the traffic light outside or the conversations of others as they pass by my window on the busy city streets. My head often spins with conflicting thoughts and emotions, a swirling tornado of anxious musings that are rarely at rest.
I had hopes that this Lent would be a peaceful one, but so far it’s been a battle of restlessness and uncertainty. So when I looked up Friday’s Lenten challenges to find them all about peace, it was the reminder that I needed. “Pray that God will help you find peace in a stressful situation.”
The other day before bed, I pulled out a book of poetry that had been a favorite in college – the poems of W.B. Yeats. It’s been years since I’ve opened it, so I brushed off the light film of dust and turned to an old bookmarked page. On that page was one of my favorite poems, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” In the poem, Innisfree, a small isle off the Western coast of Ireland, is a place of peace and tranquility, and it moved me to think of where my own personal “Innisfrees” are – when I’m alone, listening to music, in prayer, or enjoying some quiet moments with the people I love. I always think of that last line, “I hear it in the heart’s deep core,” and I’m reminded that even though I still hear car horns, too-loud-conversations, and my own swirling thoughts, if I listen hard enough, I remember the peace that exists in my own heart’s deep core.
Lake Isle of Innisfree
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.