Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stillness (1)

I shared an interesting conversation yesterday after I had spoken at a Men's Breakfast meeting.  I was given the theme of' Connecting with God and (among other things) mentioned the need for stillness.  That Moses pitched a tent a long way from the camp to be still with God (Exod. 33:7), and that Jesus often withdrew from his disciples to pray (such as Matt. 14:23). Deliberate withdrawal from people, busyness, noise, and activity in order to be still and know God (Psalm 46:8).

This man said to me: 'That word about stillness really got to me.  I realized I am never still.  All my life I am on the move, busily doing things.  Honestly, I am never still.'   His frankness really got through to me.  It's all very well talking about it. How often have I taken time out to be so quiet that I can hear the silence, and within that deep quiet hear the voice of God?  When was the last time?

I had quoted some provocative words of Pascal: 'All the evils of life have fallen upon us because men will not sit alone quietly in a room.'   What trouble we make for ourselves by hurry and noise.  But, when it comes to prayer how difficult we make it for God's relationship with us when we miss out on stillness.  How can God get through to us in deeper ways unless we are in deeper places?  Noise and activity allow only shallowness.

I felt rebuked.  So later that day I made time to go to the arboretum nearby, and walk off past other walkers in the Fall sunshine.  In the far distance on a slight rise, backed by trees and overlooking some prairie grass there was a park bench. I reached it and sat motionless.  All around leaves were turning into yellows and reds, rustling in the breeze.  Birdsong piped beautifully nearby and in the distance.  True, there was a rumble from the expressway a mile away but that only served to emphasize the stillness.  I stayed there for a time. I recognized two things.  Positively,  I experienced a genuine quietening of head and heart with a measure of openness to God in the beauty and quietness.  Negatively, I realized how poor I am at being still.  I really didn't stay more than a few minutes.  I know I shall have to be more intentional about making time to be still and silent.

Perhaps you are well-disciplined in the art of stillness.  Please share your experiences.

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