Art and Knowing · Spiritual Places

The Search For Peace

Where do you go when you need to find peace?  Do you head to a favorite place when you feel disquiet or distress? How does it help you?

I’m blessed that I live fifteen minutes from Pymatuning, the biggest lake in Pennsylvania (which empties into the Shenango River), and a three minute walk from Conneaut Lake, the biggest spring fed (natural) lake in the state.  My favorite poem, W.B. Yeats’ “The Lake Isle Of Innisfree” reflects the narrator’s love for the water, what he found there, and what he carried with him away from the lake.  Recently I desperately needed peace and that’s where I went to find it: I threw my kayak in the car and headed for Pymatuning.

Kayaking on the Shenango River, flowing from Pymatuning Lake. That's me on the left in the floppy hat.
Kayaking on the Shenango River, flowing from Pymatuning Lake. That’s me on the left in the floppy hat. (Photo by Helene Dreisbach)

God’s gift of peace through hearing the natural rhythms of “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore” and the physical rhythms of paddling helped get me on the path to a spiritual peace.

God uses the natural to get us to the spiritual. Yeats: “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow/Dropping from the veils of the morning….” (If you’d like to hear a wonderful oral interpretation, listen to Anthony Hopkins’ recitation on the Poetry Out Loud website www.poetryoutloud.org.)

My favorite Scripture also reflects peace in encouraging me to have confidence, because I will see God’s goodness in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13-14).

But I needed to go to the lake to be reminded of His goodness in my “land.”

Where is your place?

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9 thoughts on “The Search For Peace

  1. Every morning my husband lights a candle by the crucifix. Then he sits in his recliner, prays the rosary and reads the day’s Bible readings. But as soon as I walk into the kitchen, I grab a cup of coffee and sit on my porch swing. The dogs clamor at my feet for a few minutes and then settle. I listen to the birds greet the new day while I say my morning prayer–gratitude for life, concerns for children, grandchildren, and our suffering world. Of course, this routine brings a peaceful start for ordinary days. But when I’m twisted in misery it takes more than the porch to restore peace. That’s when I join my husband, watch the candle throw wavering shadows on the wall behind the crucifix, and pour out my heart in prayer.

  2. Mine is bike riding-though I do want to try kayaking! Especially love early morning rides, makes me feel like I have the world to myself.

  3. Love it. We can create places to find peace, whether on an exercise machine or water by a patio! Thanks for your comments!

  4. The ocean is my perfect place, but not very convenient. This year we built a water feature beside the patio.. that’s my place. I can watch the birds and chipmunks, listen to the waterfall, under shade of my umbrella. It’s perfectly peaceful. I put another umbrella over the chaise lounge so I can enjoy it even during a rain shower.

  5. I think sometimes physical activity (especially of a smooth, repetitive nature) can help me work off any adrenaline buzz I have if something distressing has happened. Frankly, it’s how I lost 40 pounds in the six months just after my separation and divorce: using my Health Rider exercise machine several times a day just to burn off the panic and recenter. I assume the endorphins counteracted the bad adrenaline/panic. I suspect that’s part of your love of kayaking in such times too.

    Most of my stresses these days are more internal or self-imposed, so (unfortunately) I don’t turn desperately to exercise like I did then. Maybe a few really bad things will happen and I’ll lose weight and look svelte again. 🙂

  6. This is a really interesting “take.” I think you’re right, the routine of the stroke and the setting helps clear my mind. It isn’t the only way, but I can brood too much, and physical activity helps me refocus. Thanks for commenting, Linda. (I like the sensory inputs of your mini-zoo!)

  7. This sounds marvelous! I’m curious, though: Do you find it distracting to be “busy” with paddling and hearing the sounds of the kayak and the paddling, etc.? Or is that part of the peacefulness for you? I tend to be a really be-still type when I need to focus. (Hard to believe, I know!) As much as I love music and noise, etc., I find I work for days on end in my quiet little home office with no radio, no iTunes, no TV, nothing. Just a couple of guinea pigs arguing from the far corner, and the mama mourning dove cooing to her mate from their nest, asking him to come relieve her so she can go grab a bite to eat.

    I think when I need to be really contemplative and introspective, I need to be doing either absolutely nothing (no physical exertion, just perhaps lying in the dark) or doing something so routine that I don’t need to think about it as I think about other things. I suspect that is what kayaking can be to you: routine enough because of its familiarity, yet in a place that’s not mundane like home.

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