When I looked at the world this morning, it seemed unexpectedly quiet after the turmoil and disaster of the preceding week. It was nice not to have a hurricane tearing the East Coast and not to discover a new political scandal or financial crisis that had popped up overnight. Peace must be in the gaps between the hurricanes.
But wait. Looking at the world from a slightly different angle, there was no gap between hurricanes. Hurricane Matthew had left so much rainfall in North Carolina that the rivers would not return to normal levels for a month. In some ways the flooding in eastern Canada, heavily influenced by the same hurricane, was worse. Cleanup in Haiti and Cuba had barely begun because of the difficulties of reaching the more remote areas. Some people might starve! At the same moment, Hurricane Nicole looked like it had a moderate chance of strengthening to the level of a major hurricane before a direct hit on Bermuda that would start tonight. Meanwhile the unraveling of one of the largest political parties in U.S. history seemed, if anything, to be accelerating, while new signs of financial trouble could be seen in Europe and the nearest parts of Asia. Where was the gap between disasters?
Yet I did feel peaceful in comparison to previous days. Peace is subjective, after all; it is where you are or where you can find it. And peace is a blessing even when the circumstances of the larger world don’t seem to substantiate the feeling. Any moment in which anyone finds peace is valid. In that moment and at that place it is not a fake or delusional peace, but the kind of peace that matters, the kind of peace that has the potential to expand and extend, to spread to other people and places. Perhaps I could say that peace occurs in the imaginary gaps between the hurricanes. That is not quite right either, because while the gaps might not be explainable in the larger view of the material world, peace is real wherever anyone finds it. When you are there, there is no need to justify the feeling of peace and certainly no need to debunk it. Rather, notice it and make use of it while it lasts — because that might not be very long.