"GOD, GRANT ME THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT WHAT I CANNOT CHANGE, THE COURAGE TO CHANGE WHAT I CAN AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE."–The Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr
….grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change…." The essence of the famed Serenity Prayer. Of course the rest is crucial to the entire sequence. We do need the courage to change what we can and especially the wisdom to know the difference. Such truth in so few words. Yet so hard to follow.
I am also fascinated by the Buddhist understanding of suffering as well. It centers on our attachments. It seems much easier to declare that we are not attached to our material possessions than to proclaim the same towards those we love and care about.
But at some point in the nature of all relationships, we must do so. When we come to the practical realization that our own worry and concern may not effect the condition of our loved-ones we must surrender to what exists. In doing so we release our obsessive attachments–we accept what is. We release our attempt to control what cannot be controlled. And in that release there is a serenity which sweeps over us.
Acceptance is a nonattachment born of living in the world and understanding that life goes on regardless of the adversity that we or our loved ones face. It is a reluctant surrender to the reality of existence. And underlying it is a hope, a ray of optimism that there is healing in this incarnation or the next.