My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. (Psalm 131 NIV)
When I thought of stillness I remembered a moment when I was college-age. I had come home from a date on a winter night. The snow was slowly falling as I stood on the porch of our house. Not a sound. Only the light, white downy flakes softly descending in the windless darkness. I recall standing mesmerized by the perfect stillness of that moment.
I am slowly learning to pause more and enjoy moments like that. Perhaps it comes with growing older. Maybe it has to do with having more time to watch my grandchildren, since I’m not responsible to “parent” them. And the other day, I caught my 4-year-old granddaughter teaching me the meaning of pausing, quieting down and being still. She was busy playing in our living room when all of a sudden she caught a glimpse of something outside. She stopped what she was doing, climbed up on the back of the sofa that sits in front of the picture window and just sat and looked. She simply sat still and took in the beauty of the moment.
Wendell Berry, in a similar way, recalls beholding suddenly a post-winter scene before him of springtime field, forest and farm: “I went away only a few hundred steps up the hill and turned and started home.” Then in what caused him to pause and be still, he exclaims, “In its time and great patience, beauty had come upon us, greater than I had imagined.” My friend Herb has more than once encouraged me to practice the discipline of “slowing” which is the precursor to stillness. David apparently discovered this and described the calming and quieting of his soul, as becoming like a quiet toddler leaning against its mother. My grandkids, sometimes even my grown girls, just lean up against me feeling safe and secure in my love. I’ve spent far too much time in my life being “on” and busy. Too much time trying to make something of myself, getting somewhere, or proving how productive I can be. In my restlessness, God has been too little of a delight to me. My hope has been too little in the Lord. But I’m learning at 64 years of age, to regress to that childlike stance. To simply be still and know that God is, that God loves me and that God is all.
Warmly in Christ, Greg Aikins
For Reflection: “And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire a still, small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12. KJV)
How long has it been since you were just still before the Lord? What divine moments or insights might you be missing?
What do you think about the discipline of “slowing”? Is this something you’d like to put into practice? If so, what might that mean to you today, this week, in the coming months?