When I look around at my life and everyone around me I just want to hold my arms out and say “Be still.” I over commit. At work, I teach an extra class because it provides more income. At home, I take on tasks Larry-John no longer can do. I see friends hauling kids to soccer, working full-time, and giving time to their favorite causes. Individually, the activities make sense. We benefit from them. We fulfill a need to serve others. We contribute financially to our families. We go until the dizzying effect of the carousel becomes too much. Until we realize we need the rest. Until we feel the longing to stop. To be still.
As a child, stopping –seeking time apart for quiet—came naturally. I think about my favorite moments and activities as a young girl. All of them center around quiet and reflection. I loved to climb trees. I climbed to the highest branch of the tree in our back yard and leaned against the trunk. As still as possible, I sat and observed. Rarely did others know I sat perched 50 feet above. The time was mine.
As I grew older, the need for quiet continued, and remained a natural response to life. A natural desire. I ran. Miles at a time. I found it on the road or the trail. As I set my pace and found my rhythm, I found the stillness. In my teens, my mom knew this about me. I remember the first time I realized it. I stomped in from school, probably slammed the door and grunted something about school or the boy I had fallen for. She stopped whatever she had busied herself with and said, “Go put on your running clothes and run.” I flashed a look at her, but the one she returned said it all. “You need it. You always do. You’ll feel better when you get back.”
Mom did know. In those places growing up, she knew God found me there. She never explicitly told me what she knew or why she understood. But then, that was Mom.
Perhaps she needed to give herself permission. But, she never did. Not until she faced a debilitating illness that eventually consumed her. I should have asked her in her last years, when she had so much quiet—when the quiet found her—whether she gave herself permission to enjoy it. Or, whether she resented it. I hope she gave herself permission to enjoy it.
After all, even God gave himself permission to rest in the Sabbath. A day of rest. Leading by example. Or, perhaps, just like seeking the quiet comes naturally to us as children, it comes naturally to God.
A day of rest, every week. I like the idea.
A few years ago our pastor suggested we really do that. I loved the suggestion—as though it were a novel idea. If I’m made in God’s image and God needs a day of rest, then maybe I do too. We’ve never done it. I dream about the possibility. Even the possibility of a day of rest and silence.
Being still should come naturally to us our entire lives. I think it does. I think, perhaps, we just need to listen better. I think I just need to turn off the cell phone, and the email, and block off the hours in the week and say, “Enough. Be still.”