The Meaning of Serenity

This is a personal essay I wrote in 2008 on the Serenity Prayer and identifying the meaning and experience of Serenity. This actually predates Mindfulness being commonplace in Psychology which is why that term is not used, but it is most certainly applicable.

The serenity prayer has always been dear to me, especially after I began my last self injury episode: to think that the bulk of that was 3 years ago, so far but so close to the present.

In my substance abuse groups I would have them ponder the words.  One group I wrote the prayer on the board, it had come up somehow early in the session that evening.  I had us come together and speak it.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

That had another purpose as well, those who knew the prayer were at a point of recovery.  It gave them a moment to recognize it, and those who were contemplating a moment to take a glimpse into recovery.  It was a passive means of bringing that into the forefront.

We would talk about the key words, what the prayer was about.  Acceptance, Courage, and Wisdom, how that fit into recovery.

When we would start talking about things like Serenity, the haughtiness of those in contemplation, those assuming I was some 20 something year old on a high horse, would dissipate.  We would all suddenly become equal.

I underlined the words: accept, courage, and wisdom.

Always it was an invocation of great power.  A moment of awe.

Yesterday I didn’t say the prayer, it didn’t even come to mind.  I realized as I was finishing up at work that I was 100% ok, crying good necessary tears.  Not depressed or upset.  Sometime in the mid afternoon I realized that this was Serenity.

That this time I had not needed to ask for it, I had become it.

When walking to the store to get soy milk and some other random items as I rounded the corner the prayer came into my mind.  I had a moment of recognition of what Serenity was.  I sat with it in a stupefied awareness, wondering why it had escaped me so long.

It was the process I had undergone, how I was approaching my life.  How I achieved that Serenity was through acceptance, courage, and wisdom.

Still, I am sitting with the power of that.  Also, that it has been unwavering.  It is becoming my baseline.

I accept it as my baseline.  My home is in it.  My heart.  I am committing myself to that path.

My love for others, my love for myself, is deep and powerful.  In a way I don’t know I have ever felt. There is an urge to feel sorrow, even regret for taking so long to reach this point.  A bit of shame and guilt for taking so long.  Perhaps a bit of pride in reaching this place, when so many do not.

It creeps around the edges of the feeling, those things attempt to corrode it, but it always rises up.  I am here now, full of gratitude, post surrender, full of love, humble, and present in the moment.  Those other feelings become near meaningless.  Except I know that in many ways they helped lead me here, and I am thankful for them too.

Without the dark, there is no light.

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