What a beautiful day. I’m sitting at the train station waiting for the city train. It’s so quiet. I can feel the chair I’m sitting on framing my back and supporting me graciously. I can feel every muscle in my body flexing in sweet soreness from the heavy gym workout I had yesterday. It’s warm and bright just the way I like my days. The sky is a stunning deep blue with thick, white clouds cascading effortlessly across it. The silence is only interrupted by the passing of the train every fifteen or so minutes. The cars along Murrumbeena road are a buzz of motion and movement falling into a welcome rhythm. The train tracks come alive every time a train passes, vibrating violently and forcing the rushing warm wind beneath its wheels to swirl and blow right into my face. That too, is welcome.
The front of my view is graced by a magnificent tree; so full of life, fresh and so green; a deep, dark green that bids you in and bids you out at the same time. There is a sea of tiny, yellow daisies dancing happily beneath the wings of this intimidating tree. Beside me is a father with his three little girls all dressed up in pretty summer dresses and hats. Like me, they seem enthralled by the day. They must be going somewhere special with Dad. But even in their excitement they do not make a fuss. They fit perfectly into this beautiful silence that is washing over everything. A golden brown and yellow butterfly flirts right across my face. I smile and sigh all in the same breath. It’s almost as though everything is exactly where it should be…me included…sitting right here on this green bench. If this is what contentment feels like then I am content.
It’s making me think. Somewhere along our journey as human beings, we start believing that contentment and happiness are one and the same thing and that they come from things ‘outside’ of ourselves such as material success, achievement, nature, food or even other people. While I may not feel confident enough to speak on the subject of happiness at this time (as I am still trying to figure it out myself 🙂 ), I have, however, come to know without a shadow of a doubt that contentment is not happiness. It is much more. It is more superior in quality and effect. You see, the essence of contentment is peace- that frame of mind that allows one’s soul to be at rest regardless of the circumstances. Unlike contentment, happiness shifts back and forth, probably because emotion plays an integral role in its existence. For instance, when you lose a loved one, happiness involuntarily and unfailingly gives way to sadness. This is why I strongly feel that happiness is ephemeral. Contentment, on the other hand, shows itself unique in such circumstances.
When you are content, you have this peace that is deep-seated within you that nothing that happens outside of you can disturb you in a way that causes you to lose hope or focus. I am not saying sadness and contentment cannot co-exist because they can and they will. But the contentment comes from knowing that God is in control and that nothing that happens escapes His watchful gaze. And because I know this, I can have peace even in the midst of a storm. This is why contentment is not shifty. It’s because it draws its power from peace and rest. And to be able to see that, one requires a different perspective, a different attitude towards life. Contentment is not complicated. It does not need drum rolls and accolades to exist – it thrives on simplicity. A smile; a hug; family; friends; a red sunset; a bird’s love song. Contentment recognises and appreciates grace.
So, as I sit here patiently waiting for my train and I behold the beauty of my Creator, I also marvel at the beauty He is creating within me. I am content not because of my surroundings but because I am being transformed. I am content because I have access to the greatest mind in the universe. I am content because He is aware of me. I am content because it is a warm, beautiful day. I am content because I am grateful to be alive…today.