Still, Like a Tree

Still, Like a Tree

“…in an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.” (Pico Iyer)

As I’ve been pursuing the practice of stillness, I have read a book called¬†The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer, a travel writer. Throughout the book he makes keen observations about stillness, and in a wonderful Ted Talk that he presented, he said,

“The trip, in other words, gave me some amazing sights, but it’s only sitting still that allows me to turn those into lasting insights”

Here, Iyer makes the realization that amidst the sojourning into places full of sights, vibrant with cultural experiences, it is not the trips themselves that give the lasting insights, but rather the experiences of stillness. This has been something that I have been considering as I build the intentionality of stillness in my life, having heard the invitation: “Be still, and know that I am God.” I have found it to be true for life in general, but also in my spiritual journey, that (like Iyer) it is in the quiet and stillness where I have received the insight and impact of experiences. In this, even in the littlest of things, God has shown up in big ways – whispering truths of hope and love in the quiet. You can go through the motions of life, and regardless of how extravagant the experience, stillness is the thing that allows the marrow to be sucked from the experience. I think that is why practices like The Examen Prayer are so impactful, because in it we are creating the space for God to move and speak through our experiences.

Still, Like a Tree

My daughters are full of energy, and I am amazed at how they can go nonstop! Wanting to help cultivate the experience of stillness in their lives, I have started a new practice in our bedtime prayers. A few weeks ago before prayer, I asked my youngest daughter, “What is something that is very still?” After thinking a few seconds, she said, “A tree!” “So,” I said, “let’s start our prayer by being still like a tree.” While the stillness only lasts 20-30 seconds, the prayers that have followed have been so sweet. Now, the phrase, “Let’s be still like a tree” (or a flower, as she mentioned last night ūüôā ), has been a part of our family’s spiritual language. And this childlike insight has been sticking with me throughout the day.

Here’s a blessing of stillness that I’ve written for you today, as you practice stillness:

“May you be still like a tree
May your roots go deep into the love the Father has for you
May you, being rooted and grounded in His love,
be empowered by His spirit to stand through the storms and the droughts
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Amen.”

About the Author:

Joel Bidderman is a husband, father, worship pastor, musician, spiritual director, and non-profit worker. He enjoys reading, coffee, sociology, and creatively living in the Kingdom of God.

3 Comments

  1. Christy February 8, 2018 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    HI Joel, This is so sweet ( and short) both article and poem. . Thanks for sharing this is so much a big about part of what we are trying to teach our littles. We made up a song that for the last 2 years we sing daily if not some days hourly. We are a broken record about continue to refer back to this and what our little girls ” job ” is. Like she repeating her self to get what she wants , are trying go get something when I am driving… We sing the “wait wait song”

    We continue to add to this song and have made up quite a few songs for the kids..even one that comes from one yalls song lyric “joy swirl”. Anyhoo we sing this song tune to a la la, la la sound but the concept has turned into the Shirley & Lamb chop’s song “this is the sing that never ends” .We continue to add lines to the song and especially love hearing what other people say to teach stillness, patience and waiting.. We will add yalls line to it to ” Be still like a tree”

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Watch and learn
    Wait your turn

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Wait a minute
    Maybe 2
    Probably 5 to be true

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Be still
    Know God
    Psalms
    46:10

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Keep clam
    Carry on

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Stay in your seat
    Don’t kick your feet
    No talking
    Be sweet

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Wait for it
    Wait for it
    Wait for it
    Wait for it
    Wait for it

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Watch for daddy
    He want be long
    tell me when
    he is home

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    press pause
    selah
    inhale
    exhale

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Good things
    Comes to those
    Who wait

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    Sit still
    Be quite
    Act right

    Wait wait
    Hold on
    Patiences
    Sing a song

    • Joel A Bidderman February 8, 2018 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      Christy, that is so awesome, thanks for sharing! What a gift to our little ones to have those words and songs/melodies. Thanks for adding us to your family’s liturgy with “Be still like a tree” ūüôā

  2. Christy February 21, 2018 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Read this and thought of this article:
    Thomas Merton “A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying God. It ‚Äėconsents,‚Äô so to speak, to God’s creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

    The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like God. If it tried to be like something else which it was never intended to be, it would be less like God and therefore it would give God less glory‚Ķ.”

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