by Nicholas Samaras
I make this room
a country of peace.
Within these walls, I am the harmony of an individual
with no nationalism, claims or agenda,
no chorus of discord,
no borders but redwood wainscotting.
I invent this gold light
by noticing and appreciating the light.
I am every human in this room
and I make this parlour a canton of peace.
It starts with one, so I invent
a space of calm –
the furniture relaxed, the walls tranquil,
russets and golds threading the woodgrain.
I invent this chair
by sitting on it.
I create a curved bay-window
with a cushioned garden seat to lie on, gaze out from.
In the glassy view, the horizon line of willows
diminishes into the blue blur of water and sky.
The only smoke there is
ascends the fireplace and the flue,
wafting its beloved fragrance into
the distance of the world.
I make this room peaceful
whose threshold holds the rosined light.
I craft a participation of one.
I make this room a country of peace.
It’s felt colder outside to me lately, and increasingly turbulent. Maybe it’s my access to so much news, and so many continuous on-line updates from childhood friends and acquaintances detailing struggles and strong opinions. Mine’s a porous soul, easily over saturated to the point of being weighed down with earthly cares. I’ve become the gaper at a crash site, horrified and paralyzed by the wreckage in front of me – appropriately dismayed but, ultimately, not all that helpful.
Drawing the fortitude to comfort and aid others from dwindling reserves of serenity and faith invites discouragement to creep in and take hold. With my own limited strength I attempt to carry you, but only fall with you, overwhelmed by the heaviness of our shared vulnerabilities. Who of us can run on empty?
This poem has been a balm to me today, calling me home to the source of my peace. Be judicious, reminds the poet, of what you open your heart and mind to. Create for yourself a haven in which to pray, be still and let go of thoughts too lofty, too loaded, or impertinent to our collective salvation. Feast on quiet and calm, laying your concerns, confusion, anxieties at the feet of Christ, stuffing your head with the mysterious wisdom of the saints, Church Fathers, and Jesus, Himself. Then, when full again, depart to serve, fueled by divine patience and endurance that defies understanding. Cling for dear life to the Light.
“My poor soul! Sigh, pray and strive to take upon you the blessed yoke of Christ, and you will live on earth in a heavenly manner. Lord, grant that I may carry the light and goodly yoke, and I shall be always at rest, peaceful, glad and joyous; and I shall taste on earth of crumbs which fall from the celestial feast, like a dog that feeds upon the crumbs which fall from the master’s table.”
—St. Tikhon of Voronezh