This week may have been about not losing sight of the infinite, which of course I learned by losing sight of it in many small ways. Like eating three—OK four, but they were small—croissants in one day, panicking over approaching work deadlines, or falling back into my default position of resisting doing things such as the dishes or writing this blog. But somewhere in the midst of that, I heard for the first time the phrase, “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”
Of course I’ve known those words most of my life, but I’d never heard them, especially that word “surpasses.” I’d always heard, “There’s this state out there that you’re supposed to achieve that you don’t understand yet because you’re not advanced enough, pure enough, whatever you’re supposed to be enough.” Turns out this is not what “surpasses” means. Plus there’s that pesky little “all” in there.
This peace is not understandable ever, no matter how smart you are or how holy you are; your mind cannot grasp it. I don’t know about your mind, but mine is not fond of admitting the existence of things outside its purview.
Jim Finley says something along the lines of, we think there’s a corner to turn and then we’ll be able to grasp all this, but there isn’t. That’s the story our mind tells, but as Finley points out, there’s nowhere to get to because “all this” is infinite.
On first blush, I am not a fan of this situation because I really want to get to that un-gettable place. I want to believe that at some point in my life I will have better time management skills, and that will make it all OK. But on second glance, there’s a spaciousness that opens up when I admit the possibility that, as William Stafford says, “there will come a time when all we have said and all we have hoped will be all right.” That time is any moment we choose to accept existence, including ourselves, as it is.
Note: The Stafford quote is from the poem “A Message from the Wanderer.” “The peace that surpasses all understanding” is from Philippians 4:7.