One of the things I love about snowfall is how quiet and still the world becomes. It is as if the whole of the world is resting and we can hear our own breath and heartbeat. I remember my first snow fall when I was in seminary and being outside stunned by how quiet it was. As someone who grew up in California, moisture from the sky was always accompanied by loud thunderous pounding, so the stillness was quite startling.
I am often taken by the beauty of snowfall. I anticipate that this afternoon I will be standing by my patio doors watching the snow fall, a cup of hot chocolate in my hands. There is something about the stillness of a winter’s day that forces us to slow down, to breathe, to reconnect to ourselves and our world. That is what “the time of our life” is about. Reconnecting to ourselves, our world and God.
Brene Brown says, “Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.” It is so easy to fill our days with movement and noise that pushes out not only God’s voice but our own as well. We become disconnected from the spirit that dwells in us that allows us to imagine and dream and wonder and think, we forget who and whose we are as we run from one thing to the next. We forget how to breathe deeply and how to listen.
It was not unusual for Jesus to find time to step away from the madness that was his ministry and be still. These times were often when he had heard bad news, when he had expended energy opposing the ruling powers, when he was feeling overwhelmed and perhaps unsure. These were times when Jesus needed to remember who he was and why he was doing what he was doing. This is a great model for us—and shouldn’t surprise us much given that he rested on the 7th day after creating the world. If the creator and savior of the universe needed to take some time to be still to remember and listen, why would we, creatures created in the image of the divine, not also need this same thing?
This Lent, we will explore the need for us to rest, to take Sabbath and ask the hard questions about why we resist that need. As we make our way toward March, I encourage you to begin to consider how you use your time. We will be providing you with a “budget” form for your time in the coming weeks that walks you through how you currently spend your time and how you want to be spending your time and then creating some goals around those desires. This will be our first step toward awareness and hopefully, healthy change that will allow us to be still and listen and then act on what we heard.
I will admit that this is not always easy for me. I don’t always have the time or energy to be still, and I don’t always like what I hear when I listen. I am a doer, an action oriented person, but what I have learned over the past year, as I cultivate a practice of stillness in my life, is that I am more focused and grounded during those times when I am practicing stillness. It also would appear that those times become more focused on the things that are important to me. It is one of those divine mysteries because how is it that not doing anything but being still leads to getting more done? I don’t know, and I still don’t find it an easy practice, but I am encouraged and hopeful that as I continue the practice, I will understand more deeply.
The Spirit of God is alive and active in our church, and I can only imagine what she will get up to when we take the time to listen deeply to her voice. I am looking forward to finding out with all of you!