It’s winter here. Snow is falling today, the flakes as big as acorns. When I walk outside into the woods all I can hear is silence and it’s the most beautiful sound I know.
Winter is a time for rest. The trees shed their leaves and sleep. The chipmunks huddle in their tunnels with a stash of food for the winter. The bears curl up in their dens and sleep until spring. The birds that do not migrate batten down their nests that they’ve filled with a mixture of different bedding. The snow falls, covers the ground, covers the trees and a beautiful stillness is left behind. Are we so removed from the natural world these days that we cannot take this time of year to rest? Unfortunately, for most of us the answer to this is yes. The world does not slow down, jobs still need to be done, money still needs to be made, children still need to go to school and on and on and on. Look at what we value. Look at what put ahead of the cycles of life. Jobs before rest. Money before restoring ourselves. Schooling before truth. This is the way our culture works and it saddens me to watch sometimes because I know the potential that is there behind all of this clutter.
Most of us have become so separated from what is actually natural for us that we have no idea how to sit in rest and silence. When things become quiet we turn on the television or pick up a book. We’re taught that just sitting quietly or taking a nap means we are lazy. We’re told that we should always be busy and/or productive. We think that we should have many friends so that we do not have to be alone or that it’s not socially acceptable to sit home and do nothing on a Saturday night. The list goes on with many more examples I’m sure. What is it about the silence that we turn away from? Why do we turn away from it?
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m usually not one to speak from Christianity, as there have become so many misconceptions, but today Psalm 46:10 keeps coming into my awareness. Be still and know. Notice how this psalm does not say ‘know and be still’. Be still is what comes first. However, the way we live in this culture today we seem to think that we need to know something first in order to be still. We are in school by the age of 5 or so and continue until around age 18, longer if we go to college. Then, once out of school, we go into the work force and learn a job. By the time we get here we are so conditioned to be busy..to be making money…to have a family that the “be still” part of the equation gets left behind. It gets so left behind for most of us that we no longer even know how to be still. We put “know” first when it’s the stillness that holds the answers to everything.
So during this winter, during this time of rest, take a moment to be in stillness. Take a moment to listen to the silence. It will, for most, be uncomfortable at first but stay there for while if you can. Look around. Perhaps ask yourself why you’ve turned away from the stillness for so long. If you do, you just may get your answer. Don’t turn on the television set. Don’t pick up that book. Stay home by yourself on a Saturday night. It’s okay. Just like it’s okay to take a nap even though the laundry is sitting there. Just like it’s okay to just go sit outside and watch the snow fall even though the house is dirty or you have a lot to do for work the next day. Stillness comes first if you want your questions answered. Stillness comes first if you want to live authentically.