I think Charles Allen said it first. “When faced with problems which threaten to steal your peace of mind, learn the meaning of the word ‘imperturbability.'”
I heard of two artists who were asked to illustrate peace. Each was assigned the task of depicting a peaceful scene on canvas.
The first artist drew a beautiful picture of a countryside on a warm, spring day. A soft sun illumines green grass. A picturesque farm house and grazing cattle are bathed in its warmth. A farmer walks contentedly behind strong plow horses making his field ready for spring planting. The picture is one of beauty and quiet tranquility.
The other artist took a different approach. He drew a majestic, rugged cliff. Gnarled trees, twisted by years of violent winds, jut from the craggy mountainside. Dark clouds hang low and fierce while jagged streaks of lightening slash across an angry sky. The picture is one of violence, chaos and rage.
But as one looks closely, something else becomes visible. There in one of the crevices of the rocky mountain, tucked back just out of reach of the wind and rain ‑‑ a nest with two small birds. Apparently unconcerned about the impending storm, they appear calm, cozy and peaceful as they patiently wait for the turbulence to pass.
And isn’t that the way it so often is? We may want to be surrounded by peace, but storms rage. Problems and pressures without threaten to steal peace of mind within.
The answer is imperturbability: inner peace which doesn’t leave when circumstances change. It’s a peace which is greater than the problems of life, built on assurance that the tempest will finally pass, we will survive the storm, we may grow stronger because of it and, in the meantime, we will not endure it alone.
Imperturbability ‑‑ it’s the result of a peace which passes understanding. For serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.