The Importance of Being Still
I think about a lot of things.
I think about books—books I’m writing, books I’m reading, books you couldn’t pay me to read. I think about chicken salad and guitar intros.
I think about frustrations, regrets, mistakes, and lessons I would rather not have learned. Way too often, I think about what other people think about me.
But right now it’s somewhere around ten PM, and I’m not really thinking about anything.
I can’t remember what I came out here on the porch for. Does it matter? Probably not as much as what I’m doing right now, which is sitting in a porch chair with a threadbare cushion, listening to our thirty-something acres shifting around like it can’t get comfortable in the sandy Oklahoma dirt.
The big greenish light mounted on the power pole near the house throws shadows around the yard, stealing thunder from tonight’s half-moon. My bare feet are propped up on the seat of another chair; one of the cats jumps up onto my legs and wobbles like a toddler trying to stand on an exercise ball.
I don’t like cats. I don’t like them standing on me. But pushing this one off seems like it would upset the delicate balance of harmony in this scene, so I’m okay with it, just this once. The cat can stay. I even pat its head. Just this once. Don’t get any ideas, cat.
With my toes getting chilly and a fuzzy animal standing on my kneecaps, I think about God.
Which I do a lot, sometimes with a good dose of frustration. I try to analyze His movements, like second-guessing an opponent in a chess game. I complain at Him. I ask whiny questions about why my life isn’t going the way I wanted. Sometimes when I don’t hear back soon enough, I put a face on Him and make Him talk, like a puppet. It’s not the most satisfying of conversations.
But right now, in this still moment of time, I’m thinking about God without any of my agendas or anxieties coloring the filter of my ponderings. For a moment, all the little distractions that pollute my mind have stopped their clamoring, and I can see the pure, raw, universe-shattering love of my Creator, as clear and unobstructed as the wispy trail of Milky Way stretching out above me.
My thoughts move slower, digesting snippets of childlike truth that are so simple, yet infinitely complex and wonderful.
God is good.
Love is good.
Cats are soft.
The universe is big.
I am small.
I am loved.
I guess I’m praying, in a way. Not asking for anything, not trying to word my request in such a way to impress God with my fake sincerity or large vocabulary. Just being small, and being still, and soaking in the few things I happen to know are true for sure.
The cat is now simultaneously nibbling on my toes and trying to clean out my left nostril with the end of its tail. I divert the tail somewhere less ticklish. It doesn’t really bother me–the cat is part of the moment, just as much as the Milky Way and the cedars creaking and my cold sockless feet. It’s all fantastic.
I think we need these moments. Of quietness, of thought without thinking. Just to Be Still and Know.
I wonder why I don’t have more moments like this. I should carve out a place in my daily schedule, my Be Still time. But I don’t think it works like that. I think moments like this one only come along when you’re not looking. And then you have to grab on, and let them pull you out of whatever worries and distractions are tugging you in the other direction, and hold on as long as it lasts.
And then treasure that moment. And remember it. And maybe, say a quick, quiet Thank You, because I don’t think these things happen by accident.