Sometimes I really just want to leave the mainstream world behind me and head to somewhere like the mountains of Nepal where I might find a monastery to experience some true peace. The fact is, I haven’t been feeling a lot of peace at all lately and that truly bothers me, as I have experienced before what true peace ultimately feels like.
The last time I felt it was after embarking upon a 10-day silent retreat in the mountains of North Carolina back in 2005. But eventually all of that peace departed when I fell deep into some addictions many months later. It’s now been a good ten years since and I have often felt just about everything but peace.
While my life isn’t filled with addiction anymore, it has been filled with plenty of other difficult things like deaths, physical pain, financial hardship, mental imbalance, loneliness, and a number of other struggles as well, all of which have made it extremely difficult to feel anything even close to peace.
Trust me, I have done everything I know to do to find it, yet it constantly seems to elude me. I have prayed and prayed and prayed for it, asking God for guidance and direction to get there, and haven’t heard much of anything other than to keep doing what I’m doing and remain patient.
In the meantime, however, temptation has beckoned me at every turn, constantly knocking on my door to do all the former unhealthy things I once did with such regularity. I have been enticed to drink, lured to smoke weed, drawn to look at pornography, aroused to commit infidelity, and even thought about taking my life more than a few times.
Waiting has never been my strong suit and neither has been letting go of control. Usually when I want something so badly, I have always found a way to get it by my own means. But peace doesn’t appear to be something that will ever come in that way. It isn’t something I can buy and it isn’t something I can get through engaging in any of those temptations either.
Peace seems to be something that comes when it’s meant to, usually when God sees that I’m ready. So, I guess I’m still not ready, which is probably why I continue to ponder the idea of going to a monastery in the mountains of Nepal to look for it.
Unfortunately, the likelihood is that I wouldn’t find it there. Because the last time I tried to recreate the peace I received from that retreat, was when I embarked upon a second 10-day silent retreat, feeling exactly as I do right now. There, instead of discovering the peace I so wanted to discover again, I instead found there were a number of areas in my life I had to work through first, which caused me to leave the retreat early, feeling the exact opposite of peace.
Ever since, I have asked God many times if I should try again, and the answer has always come back the same.
Be still and remain where you are, doing what you are doing.
That’s how I feel right now knowing that and the best picture I can portray of this is of a person who’s stranded in the middle of the Sahara Desert with nothing in sight but one sand dune after another. And they are thirsty, so very thirsty for that life-giving water and not even a single oasis is in sight either.
I don’t know why God allows us to be in places like this for long periods of time, where no matter how much action we take to find peace, it still eludes us.
Sitting in this emptiness, waiting for guidance and direction, is tough. Yet, I believe it’s a step that I must continue to take on my spiritual journey toward enlightenment.
One day I will feel true peace again, that I believe, because my eyes remain focused on following the love and guidance of God and not the illusions of any of those temptations.
And while I may still think from time to time about going to a monastery in the mountains of Nepal purely out of frustration and desperation, I know that true peace can be found in every step, no matter where we are in this world, even right here in Toledo, Ohio, where I remain to pray and wait upon God, who I know will deliver it within me when I’m truly ready…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson