Peace and traffic

This has been a very challenging week for me. My mother had to have some surgery to correct a problem with a dental implant. It was not life-threatening surgery, but it was surgery that involved a lot of pain. So I am in Georgia to offer my support. At home in Pennsylvania, I am able to keep my stress to a minimum, but the uncertainties of travel, a new environment, and spending the day at the hospital yesterday, has allowed feelings of grief and anxiety to surface. The blessing has been that I have been able to practice the skills that I have learned to help me stay close to God and in touch with the peace that transcends understanding.

An ultimate test came this morning when I drove down to Atlanta to pick my mother up at the hospital. When I first found out that I would be driving down to get her, I instantly felt some anxiety about driving in all that traffic and attempting to find the hospital in the big city by myself. In rural Pennsylvania where I live, there is rarely traffic, and lately I have not had to drive very much; so driving in Atlanta was definitely going to stretch my boundaries of comfort. Even as I started out on the side roads to the interstate, I found myself absolutely fearful. I was so tense. Then I realized I was holding my breath!

I decided to turn off the radio, and focus on breathing and maintaining a safe distance from the surrounding vehicles. I stopped worrying about my destination. When I found myself distracted by roadside billboards or the moving billboards traveling next to me, I reminded myself to focus on my breathing and the driving. When cars darted in front of me, I took a deep breath instead of getting angry or afraid. When I was doing really well, I even smiled. After an hour of bumper to bumper traffic (not exaggerating), I arrived at the hospital relaxed and peaceful! And the time flew by unnoticed.

God wants us to have this type of peace all the time. It becomes difficult because there are so many distractions in our lives and in our world. We, literally, let those distractions get the best of us. Instead of trying to fill our lives with peace, we fill them with many, many other things. We all have to live in this world, and the distractions will be there. But we can choose whether to allow those distractions to take away our peace. We can find ways to keep our connection to God even when the chaos of the world surrounds us. God is always there…and waiting.

Last week, I was driving along our winding road that follows the creek behind our house. It was nighttime. I stopped the car in the middle of the road, to watch the moon slip behind the clouds and reappear on the other side. The silence and stillness gave me absolute peace. Now I reflect that whether our surroundings are serene or chaotic, the peace that God gives us is always there…like the moon. We just have to practice stilling our minds long enough to notice.


“Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10a

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” –Numbers 6:24-25

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7


“If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained.” –Pema Chödrön


God, I thank you for the peace that you give me. Despite the distractions and chaos in this world, I know that I can always find serenity in your presence. When I practice stilling my mind, the peace that is beyond understanding is always mine. Amen


<Back to Archive