Turtle Talk Editorial: The foreign experience of tranquility

by C.A. Whitworth, Editor

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence…begins one of my literary favorites, Desiderata.

   A few years ago I had the unique bounty of traveling to Israel to visit the Baha’i Holy Shrines on the side of Mt. Carmel and nearby Bajhi. Internationally known for their beauty and tranquility, visitors are drawn by the thousands from all over the world to witness the beauty of the gardens and the prevailing tranquil spiritual atmosphere where only the songs of the birds can be heard.

   Upon returning home I was amazed to find similar tranquility as I sat alone on the enclosed patio of my home at the end of a dead-end street one block off of the main highway, where no sights can be seen but those of nature and no sounds heard but the singing of the birds. Yet it took a trip to Israel for me to fully appreciate it.

   Much beauty and tranquility continue to exist in more rural areas of this youthful nation and in the townships and villages of many other countries considered “over or undeveloped.” With “development” however must come developers, a situation which inevitably begets over-commercialization and greed, resulting in industrial and commercial rape of original inhabitants of the land. (I believe the politically correct term for it is “manifest destiny.”)

   “So speak your truth quietly and clearly,” Desiderata continues, and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; for they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit…

   It appears that such literary treasures and I are both out of step with the maddening hype of today’s society.

   In the increasingly fast pace of our daily lives, we are finding less time for ourselves, our families, or for physical or spiritual nourishment.

   So let us make a decision today to create a tranquil spot in our world to which we can systematically retreat and say or study a prayer or read some inspirational verse–preferably in the early morning before we become entrapped in the day’s activities (too often with little accomplishment). As we acquire spiritual nourishment and strength, perhaps we can occasionally include others–especially youth and little children being led or left to drift in today’s world “so laden with moral dangers.”

   Such a moment presented itself over the weekend at our Massanutten timeshare when my son and daughter joined their children and me in morning devotions (in which the children have been participating for several years). It was truly an experience to be ever cherished.

   “The greatest bestowal in the world of existence is a tranquil heart,” we read in the Baha’i Holy Writings, “… and the tranquility of the heart is only gained by living in accord with the Divine Teachings and Exhortations… When a person attains this station he is content and peaceful. This station is joy succeeded by joy, confidence after confidence and Paradise after Paradise.” One can then indeed “Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there is in silence.