Learning to Be Still

I recently read a great story, which goes like this: A “boatman” comes from the city to camp beside a river near the author’s house, ostensibly to escape from his busy life and enjoy nature.  However, the boatman spends all his time rushing around, angrily fixing his broken boat motor, and then zooming up and down the quiet river all day.  After watching all this, the author observes with great sadness: “he had stayed as remote from the place he had come to as if he had never left the city where he lived… because he could not be still, the place could not exist for him.” (Wendell Berry, “The Nature Consumers”)

As a generally busy person living in a culture which prizes busyness and fears stillness, Berry’s words read as a challenge to me.  It makes me wonder… what is it that “cannot exist” for me when I refuse to be still?

When I learn to be still, the people and places that creep into my consciousness reveal God to me in new ways, breathing life into the psalmist’s words: “Be still and know that I am God.”

What or who begins to “exist” for you when you are still?  What do they teach you about God?  How can you cultivate practices of stillness?

Christin Tomy, Candidate

Sinsinawa, WI


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