I have just finished devouring Julia Baird’s luscious book, Phosphorescence. One of the highlights for me—beyond the allure of ‘forest bathing’; beyond the call to authenticity and connection; beyond the notion of my own bioluminescence—was the invitation to stillness.
Stillness, or silence, is not necessarily the absence of noise. On the contrary, it can include natural sounds such as the running of a river or the call of a bird. For me, stillness is about an absence of machine-type sounds: traffic, sirens, and above all, leaf-blowers. Don’t get me started.
It’s the stillness found beside a lake as I watch the ducks paddle around.
It’s the stillness I encounter in the country when I step outside the door and talk to the cows.
It’s the stillness that requires nothing of me, except to be present, and to notice it.
In our busy world (even amidst the pandemic), physical and mental stillness can be scarce. Which is partly why I have decided to pursue it this year. Call it one of my resolutions if you will. I am also chasing stillness because I need it. This year, and at this moment, I want to be more intentional about making space for stillness.
I want to be more intentional about making space for stillness.
My mind often feels cluttered with day-to-day concerns. This, in itself, is not a bad thing. My brain helps me keep track of what I need to do by lining up my mental to-do list for me like a long conveyor belt. I find this helpful. It keeps me organised and focused.
But everyone needs time out. And I can feel that my cluttered brain is in need of respite.
My cluttered brain is in need of respite.
So I am allowing more moments of stillness in my life: moments when, after watching a TV show, I sit for a minute before diving into the next episode. Moments when I watch the cat sleep. Moments when I step outside, not to *do anything* except to be outside.
Moments when I commune with God without words.
The last one is proving an interesting challenge. I am normally a vocal person and have no problems talking to God about everything and anything. Again, this is not inherently a bad thing. But since I am presently focusing on mental decluttering, I am choosing to sit with God and not fill the silence.
I am choosing to sit with God and not fill the silence.
I am enjoying it far more than I expected.
(I wonder if God enjoys it too. Wasn’t he the one who said, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’? [Psalm 46:10])
So, my friend, I wish to extend to you this invitation to stillness. Find it in a restful activity. Find it in prayer. Find it in a fleeting moment, before your eyes close for the night. However you choose to do it, may you find stillness, and rest, for your soul.
Do you, like me, yearn for the stillness of an uncluttered mind? When do you find those moments of stillness? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.