During this Lenten season, I lost a dear friend unexpectedly. It was a Tuesday, and I planned to go to the grocery store. Instead, I was in the ER and then the ICU, waiting, hoping, and praying while trying to comfort her two daughters who are the same ages as my boys. I had so many joyful memories with these girls: picking blueberries on a hot summer day, watching them bob in the pool, laughing, and splashing with abandon, and chatting leisurely in their kitchen on carefree topics that meandered like the veining in the marble on their island. We went trick-or-treating with them, hunted Easter eggs, and watched fireworks on the Fourth of July. Read more
As a native Floridian, winters are hard for me. It’s not just the closed toe shoes and the cumbersome layers of clothes that make me feel constrained liked a mummy wrapped in fleece.
It’s the darkness.
The shorter days, gray skies, and the browning emptiness leave flowers blighted and bare trees somber. I don’t notice how much it affects me until spring arrives, and I am awed by the glorious light. I catch myself staring out the window. I see the green growth of new leaves on the mounds of sticks sprouting up from the earth and the reliable bloom of azaleas bursting bright with joy, but it’s the light, pervasive and ethereal, that captivates me. Read more
Be Still. God knows I heard this often as a child. I remember one time my mom promising me a new doll if I would just sit still for ten minutes. When you are a kid, ten minutes is an impossibility, a lifetime, a duration that exists in fairytales along with “happily ever after.”
Stillness remains a challenge for me. By far, the hardest part of writing is getting myself to sit down. I reheat my coffee, let the dog out, tell the cats they are pretty, stuff my face with white cheddar popcorn, nibble chocolate, check email, Facebook, scoop kitty litter, and reheat curdled coffee again. Then, I sit, twitch, and fidget for a bit before I succumb to the stillness that begets words. It’s like an exorcism.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
I am part of a group of women at my church who will be hosting a retreat this month, and we chose this as our theme. It’s not a message we hear often, and it is certainly counter to what society encourages. Stillness is a renegade concept, a weapon that destroys the inauthentic notions of life. I associate it more with someone like Yoda in a galaxy far, far away than I do anyone on our planet.
Our world teaches us our value is tied to busyness. Go faster, be efficient, do more, be more, make more, and have more. But for heaven’s sake, don’t be still. Don’t stop and smell the roses. Get them in the ground and check it off your list. Or better yet, pay someone to do it. Your time is too valuable. You need to be producing.
The message is clear, if you are still, the world will pass you by. You will be considered slovenly. You will miss out. You will fail to measure up. You might as well be a concrete statue for pigeons to stoop (and poop) on.
When we believe these messages, eventually our motion spins out of control. We lose touch with who we are called to be, the things we enjoy, and who matters most. We get lost and dizzy from all our spinning. And tired. So many of us are tired.
Last year for Lent, I challenged myself to spend ten minutes a day in stillness with God. I was terrified. I didn’t want to commit to such an endeavor and not honor it. Usually, the things we need most are the hardest to do, the least appealing, and met by the most resistance. But I decided to be brave and embrace the stillness that always eluded me.
And you know what? I didn’t turn green like Yoda or get soiled by pigeons. I didn’t even feel like demons were being dispelled from my body like I do when I sit to write. I didn’t miss a single day of my commitment.
Contrary to what we may think about motion, the real action begins with stillness. I was more calm, aware of myself, closer to God, and felt a genuine sense of peace. It was so much more of an intentional way to pray. I even read scripture before I started my timer so I felt more deliberate about my conversation with God.
I continued my habit for a while after Lent and then slowly traded the stillness for the unregulated motion that’s so much easier to fall into. Like a child, I resist. But I know that stillness waits for me, wants for me, and will embrace me anytime I am willing to surrender to its calm.
And the reward for stillness is far greater than a new toy. It is a chance to sit with the knowing that is God.
Want more to help you on your Lenten journey read this.
I will preface this by saying I promise this is about Lent.
Do you remember that song by the band, Queen, Another One Bites the Dust?
Another one down,
another one down,
another one bites the dust…
another one bites the dust. Read more