We thank you, O Lord, for the tranquility of this day.
In a world beset by strife and turmoil, we as individuals in our own little worlds, make every effort to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors, friends and family.
And when of an afternoon, we come to meet with our fellow members, we bring with us goodwill and friendship, and on parting, wish each other well.
Please, O Lord, let it ever be so.
Reading this invocation, I paused at the word “tranquility.” It’s aspiring, but difficult to achieve in today’s topsy-turvy, taxing, tumultuous society with ringing phones, beeping computers, blaring ads, screeching traffic, and endless demands from parenting to driving, working, shopping, tidying, gardening, cooking, accounting, responding, and recreating, which if you’re tired from your countless other obligations can be equally exhausting.
Tranquility in 2012? Maybe not.
Reading my grandmother’s letters, written long before I was born, I got a glimpse into what she may have considered tranquility. With five sisters and two brothers, and seven sisters on her husband’s side, her weekends were often filled with visiting, car rides, dinners and lunches.
Telephones were new-fangled and not a good replacement for letter writing. Walking to the store, typically several times a week, was common. Driving was for pleasure, often to the beach or other southern California site. Parks were sprinkled with picnic baskets, teaming with kids, barking dogs, and teens hanging out within eyeshot of watchful parents.
Times were simpler. Tranquility more attainable.
For Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre, tranquility wasn’t a desirable state. She wrote, “It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth.
Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”
If Charlotte Bronte lived today, she probably would have yearned for the opportunity to do little more than play the piano, knit a pair of socks, or “stagnate” for a few minutes!