“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10 NRSV
Words of Hope
After being in semi-isolation due to the current COVID 10 pandemic, staying home except to shop for groceries and occasionally get take-out meals, the idea of being still is really a difficult one for me. I am still, at least stuck in one place, and stillness is just something I have trouble with.
What I believe the psalm is talking about in my case is to still my thoughts. My brain has been like a runaway train, unable to concentrate on much and every bit as stir crazy as my body.
If I listen to the Psalmist and hear God speaking, I realize I need to coax my thoughts into stillness, to slow the spinning of my brain and find an inner peace where I can clear my thoughts and center on just listening. It is a call to meditation and calm, rather than a motivation to do things. Sometimes doing nothing can accomplish more than a frantic attempt to do something.
I majored in philosophy for the short time I attended Baylor University. It was a tumultuous time in my life; my father had died, I had just come out as gay, and I was the only Jew at Baylor that year. I felt a lot of pressure especially from the Theology Department. What I found solace in was my study of philosophy and particularly Eastern thinkers like Lao Tsu. The great Taoist writer emphasized Wu wei which translates as “non-action” and the practice of emptying the mind and sitting in a state of simply being one with reality. It was the Chinese version of “being still”. In that stillness I found life became clearer and more simple. And not surprisingly I still practice it today.
When I stop spinning and fighting against whatever it is that is troubling me, often the path forward becomes clearer. When I wonder what God is trying to do with my life and what path I am supposed to follow, I remember to just be still for a bit. With my eyes closed in a quiet place, I find my vision and hearing become much clearer and God is present. God was present all along, but my mind was too cluttered with worries and fears that I was unable to see.
God, may I find a quiet place in my life to just sit and be still, for there I will find your presence revealed.