Stillness, the ability to be by oneself and to really be at rest…why is that so hard these days? Why does it seem so unattainable?
I was recently encouraged to read a well articulated article, The Joy of Stillness, addressing this very issue by Pico Iyer that was recommended Amy Julia Becker’s blog Thin Places. The article resonates deeply with feelings I have had for quiet a while, especially since getting more involved with the blogging world.
Stillness seems to be something that is difficult to develop and even harder to actively value in our fast paced techno-driven culture that thrives on “breaking news”, “latest tweets” and instagrams that capture and broadcast our most private moments for the world to enjoy within seconds of their occurrence.
All this connectedness is helpful, fun and good. Without noticing, however, this constant “plugged-in living” can drown out the very thing that gives us significance. It can leave us filled up with information, but lost as to what to do with it or how to truly remain and be at rest in the moments of our daily existence.
The thing I crave most, in the core of my being, is stillness. I long for a deep soul-anchoring quietness that doesn’t change with my circumstances. My daily activities (refereeing pre-schoolers, fighting traffic, blogging, tweeting, face-booking, and gambling on which grocery line will be the fastest) all naturally emit noise and carry with them a sense of rush, hurry up, run faster to keep up with everyone and everything else. In all this noise, I find that I am less and less able to understand, articulate and offer who I genuinely am to those I am called to love and serve.
Since I have started regularly blogging, tweeting and interacting on Facebook, I have felt an internal tug of war. The addicting nature of checking those sites is easily consuming but so is the ache to unplug from it all and retreat far away from the noise and constant flurry of activity.
I notice a soft wind whispering, inviting me to reserve time away, to set-apart non-internet time just to be – to be with Him – to slow down, to find my rest in the quiet place of His presence, to remember who I am, to remember who He is.
I agree with Iyer that “It’s vital, of course, to stay in touch with the world, and to know what’s going on; But it’s only by having some distance from the world that you can see it whole, and understand what you should be doing with it…it’s only by stepping briefly away from my wife and bosses and friends that I’ll have anything useful to bring to them.”
I believe that there is hope for our information crazed, tweeting obsessed culture to be able to reach up and grab the “lifeline” of stillness which allows us to be more fully present in the moments that matter. To reach up and grab His hand that is able to steady our tumultuous existence.
The stillness where we meet our Hope does, however, require intentionality and discipline, and it is so worth every bit of effort it takes to get it.
For me, this “stillness” happens around 5am when my alarm goes off and I walk down the stairs to my little niche in the kitchen. In this season of life with three kids under four, a limited budget and scarce “me time”, that is the only part of my day that is truly available and truly still. It is the place where I can unplug from the noise around me, and sit in the quiet of His presence. It’s pre-internet, pre-twitter, pre-facebook, pre-kids.
During this time of stillness, I reflect, worship, meditate on scripture, listen, and write. I sit. I sip. I listen some more. I pray for perspective on the bigger story of life, so I can enter into the small moments of my day with clarity and offer substance to a hungry world. In knowing Him in the quiet, I am then able to see, experience and share…
Hope that outlasts the hurry,
Peace that penetrates the noise,
and Truth that leads to transformation..
“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” Isaiah 30:15