“…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 :-) ), 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 grow 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