Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Being Still When the Lights Go Out


It was a dark and stormy night when the lightning flashed, the thunder clapped, and the lights flickered twice before fading into a vacuum of darkness…

Okay, that didn’t actually happen.  It is cloudy, and the evening is late and becoming dim.  But the night has not really settled in yet, and there were no dramatic moments – the lights went out in the blink of an eye.  The why and how long of the power outage is still to be determined; in the meanwhile sitting in a quiet and darkening house surrounded by wonderful smelling candles and sleeping dogs is not a terrible interruption to the constantly connected electrical world we live in.  This gives me a chance to put pen to paper, sit in the glow of a pine candle (my favorite scent), and write on what paper I could find using my phone as a flash light.  The paper could be gray or maybe lavender, it’s hard to tell with the low light fading the colors out.  But, in the midst of this outage, I think it would be an ideal time to be still. 

When I have an opportunity to be still, I realize afresh how I crave this more than my routine indicates.  After coming back from a time that involved stillness, I find myself wanting this more frequently.  In the presence of everyday life, my sense of mental equilibrium can apparently settle into something not entirely good because stillness tends to leave me falling into an exhausted sleep.  When I do get a period of quiet, enforced by a power outage though it may be, it can draw attention to the need to be still and regain balance.

“Be still and know that I am God” you say.  Be still.  Still. Still.  Still moving.  Still squirming.  Still yacking about irrelevant things.  Still having conversations in my head.  Still not focused.  Still not listening.  Still not having a mental slow down.  Still trying.  Still straining to listen.  Still settling.  Still need to add that last item to my list.  Still, be still. That is generally when the phone rings, the e-mail arrives, the dog barks, the calendared event starts, or I just fall asleep.  Be still I say to myself!  You are supposed to be still and know.  Can’t I know that God is God while moving about?  This still thing is awfully difficult.  I tend toward curiosity and I wonder why be still?  Why not be quiet and know or be noisy and know – I could probably accomplish that a lot better than being still. 

The lights just came back on.  My thanks to the power crew that is working tonight.  I do like our electrical conveniences.  In the growing darkness though, I did have a moment when stillness started.  After one of the moments the dogs of insisted we go out, I tried to be still.  When I’m still, I don’t hear myself moving about.  I hear the patter of a gentle rain starting to fall.  I hear night sounds as frogs and crickets perform virtuoso lullabies.  I smell the awakening smell of spring warmed earth, new leaves, and the beginnings of spring blooms.  Be still and know. 

Be still is not the easiest thing for me, but I can understand why I need to be still.  I need to hear God and readjust my direction to move forward.  My direction right now is to be still a little more often – it’s like a vacation for the soul.