3. “God, grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change”
The sweet-sounding words of the Serenity Prayer seem as if they were created specifically to appear on lovely inspirational posters and syrupy greeting cards. They are often written in a decorative script somewhere near a picturesquely setting sun, shimmering ocean shores, or majestic mountain vistas. The prayer is so often repeated that it sometimes comes close to seeming like a cliché. But the hope it offers is deadly serious to those who yearn to achieve a single day of sober serenity.
In 1934, Webster’s Dictionary offered this definition: “Serenity n. The quality of being bright, clear, and calm”.
As an artist who wishes to offer an original perspective, I wasn’t pleased when my prayer and meditation on the word “Serenity” produced YET ANOTHER pastoral drawing. All of my other drawings in my Serenity Prayer series offered something slightly surprising, original, unconventional, or even mysterious. Still, I remained committed to making the drawings that my Higher Power inspired, whether I understood them or not.
It wasn’t until the Serenity illustration was finished that the real point of the illustration became clear to me.
In the drawing, a tree is perched on the shore of a river. The surface of that river is broken up by very common-looking waves. But in the area closest to the tree, the water appears very still and smooth. That’s not entirely unusual. Who hasn’t seen exactly that type of becalmed water in the midst of light waves?
Then a memory came back to me. My high school physics teacher taught that when a wave travels, it will not stop until it is stopped by another force. We may think of waves as tapering down as they travel, but that’s not entirely accurate. The reason they appear to lose size is because their force becomes spread out around an increasingly expanding circle. According to the scientific explanation I heard, waves cannot abruptly halt in mid-water.
Still, haven’t we have all seen such patches of mirror-smooth water amid rippling waters? I am confident that science can explain it. But I still marvel at it whenever I see that effect on real water.
I now know I can turn my inward gaze toward flat water when confronted by a world of choppy and unsettling distractions. I no longer ask my Higher Power to stop the world around me. I can ask for help being bright, clear, and calm inside myself whenever I choose to.