On a recent morning I sit in the silence, seeking stillness. It proves elusive. Reminders chirp in my head. Thoughts flap around. Plans ping. I pause. Offload to paper. Return. Repeat. “Be still” I say. “Stop it.” “Pay attention.” And, slowly, I lift my gaze. I look out. Up. Around.
The clouds hang flat and heavy on the mountains. Low and slow moving, they narrow the gap between earth and sky, concentrating my field of vision.
The birds are awake and lively. Swallows push against the grey ceiling, diving and dancing in great arcs and sudden swoops. Robins, standing silent in the clover, tending to breakfast, suddenly lift off and wing their way to the treetops for morning song. Goldfinch dip and dart.
And in and through it all, there are the trees - fir and maple and aspen, mostly. With cherry and apple and ash - bridging earth and sky.
The birds flit from one branch to another. Now up. Then down. Singing and winging their way in and out, under and above. And the trees?
They stand. Still.
Now and again a breeze lifts the leaves of a maple; a draft animates the branch of an ash; a breath enlivens the crown of a fir. The aspen applaud. And then . . .
A return to stillness. And a quiet invitation.
Be still. As thoughts flutter in and out and about like birds? Wait quietly. Patiently. As the Spirit’s promptings lift my intentions and stir my soul to action? Pay attention. Make a note. Applaud. Return.
I gain insight - hope, in truth - from the trees this morning. Standing still, they invite me: Seek stillness in, rather than against. Be gentle with yourself in the seeking. Be patient in the practice of paying attention. And quietly sit with others, inviting a return to stillness.
“Be still before the Beloved, and wait quietly in the silence.”
- Psalm 37, Psalms for Praying, Nan Merrill