Oh, to be serene. To have a long, elegantly slender neck. To glide on top of the waters - without all that furious paddling that's going on underneath apparent for all the world to see!

Are there really serene people? Or just those who appear to be so, but are indeed furiously paddling underneath?

I know a lot of people who wish they were serene. How many of us can recite the Serenity Prayer by heart? How many add the line "just for today" at the end to make it seem more possible? Note that the prayer asks for grace first - "God give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed; courage to change the things which should be changed; and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other." Grace being divine assistance. (Of course I'd like to be graceful, too, like a swan - you don't see swans tripping over the steps and such.)

Of course, swans don't sound serene. Their honking and hissing is not particularly lovely. And they can be very aggressive if one ventures too close to their nests. They are very territorial and I have seen swans chase small children. They just look serene when they're swimming.

I wonder if serenity is one of those core things that is there underneath all the baggage we've piled on top of it. Do we all have a measure of serenity, or is it the particular gift of some and not others? And can one be serene outside of particular situations - is it a way of being, or a way of acting in the face of trouble? If it were a core attribute, then one could retreat into serenity when faced with an invitation to frustration. Just let go, and be serene.