About a year ago, I joined a small group of women whose purpose was to work through the Lyfe study series. We’ve completed this and have recently moved onto reading The Good and Beautiful God by John Mohler. John’s book was suggested as a good tool to help not only with personal growth, but one that might aid as we seek the right path for our future as a church.
The topic that continues to surface nearly every session, is that of taking time to experience a moment of quiet in our daily lives. Call it gratitude, meditation or even prayer… these quiet moments are becoming more and more fleeting as our electronic connection with the world continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
I was watering the flowers on my front porch one Saturday morning as the mailman was making his rounds. Our neighborhood is one of those where the vanishing tradition of mail delivery to the box on your front porch is still alive and kicking. It’s a great bonus on days when the weather is less than perfect.
This day, however, was a picture perfect Fall day. I hadn’t even noticed the mailman’s approach, which is extremely odd, as we normally have a warning chorus (or maybe it’s a welcoming chorus) that carries from one dog in the neighborhood on to the next, until each and every home has been visited by our letter-carrying friend.
We exchanged greetings as he stepped onto the porch to place the mail into the box. As I returned to my watering, he paused a moment and said “Listen…”
“I don’t hear anything.” I stopped watering so I could pick up on whatever it was I was missing.
“I know!” he continued, It was completely still and quiet! No barking dogs, no sounds from traffic moving on the street, no sirens, not even the whir of a lawn mower in the distance.
“Hmm…” I replied, “it’s nice, isn’t it?” We both smiled and nodded. He carried on with his mail delivery and I continued watering. I took the time now to consciously enjoy the calm. I listened to the sound of the water as it moved through the hose and into the soil. I noticed the hum of the water’s spray as it seemed to carry it’s own special tune while it nourished each plant with a well-needed drink.
Teachers of meditation and prayer tell us that calming our mind and nurturing our spirit truly is a necessary step toward ensuring our continued health and well-being. It’s a process. Our minds are naturally curious — they want to wander off and think about stuff that’s going on. So, until we learn to unwind, the task of simply being can be quite a chore!
The first step is training the mind to be still. When it does wander away, we need to retrieve it and gently bring it back into focus. Focusing on a sound, or even concentrating on the process of breathing can be an easy way to begin. Close your eyes, and focus on the simple act of breathing. Follow the air as it goes into the nose, filling the lungs with oxygen, noticing as it moves through the body, replenishing the supply to our mind and organs, and concentrating, still, as it exits, releasing the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere where it is absorbed by the plants, who, in their own physiological way, process our waste, and turn it back into rejuvenating oxygen. It all seems so simple, but really, it’s another of God’s amazing wonders that makes life possible for all things.
I’d like to challenge each of you to join me as I try to take time to appreciate the stillness. The more often you practice being still, the more easily it will come to you. It doesn’t need to be for a long period of time. Just think of what you wish to accomplish as you allow yourself to enjoy a few moments of silence. It may simply be that you want to ease tension or stress, or perhaps you are searching for the solution for a task or problem. Maybe you just want to have time to appreciate all that is good in your life. Whatever you seek, allow yourself the opportunity to find what the gift of the spirit has to offer you.