“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
I have returned to this verse so many times in my life, because I am extraordinarily bad at being still.
So far this year in Richmond, I find myself so much more still than I am used to- my schedule is not as full as I tended to make it in college, and my familiar activities and people I would tend to fill it with are not available. So I tell myself this is good: I can fill my time with stillness and time to pursue God.
But I still manage to replace stillness with something that looks similar, without being open to God and others: being stagnant. Instead of opening my schedule/heart and mind, I still clutter it up, filling my evenings with minute distractions that don’t fill me up. I find it very hard to be physically still: I’ve always been the one bouncing a foot or tapping a pencil. But when I manage the literal stillness of physical inactivity, it just leads to me becoming simultaneously stagnant and bored. And that version of me isn’t inclined to read, to pray, to create art, to pursue new friendships and opportunities.
I have been close to achieving stillness at times: usually separated from technology, deep in the woods somewhere. But even then I have found myself frustrated by my ability to find distractions in the temperature, the leaves around me, my plans for post-stillness… Setting can certainly aid this still pursuit of God, but it isn’t enough. I am still working on training my mind and heart to focus on God, but for me this focus unfortunately does not come naturally. It is a discipline. And while I have always been intrigued to study spiritual disciplines, I have been a poor practitioner of them.
Too often I want to remedy my stagnant lifestyle by filling it with busyness. To an extent activities are certainly life-giving to me, but I can tend to overcommit and overfill my schedule, then say I don’t have the time for the stillness needed to create space for God. But time isn’t ever really the issue: even with what feels like too much time on my hands I am not spiritually still/receptive.
So that is a goal for myself the rest of the year: to pursue stillness without stagnancy, even as I continue to pursue meaningful engagement in every community I find myself. I am also trying to dive into liturgy during this time- to fill my seemingly empty hours with spiritual disciplines of a new variety, rather than feeling stuck in patterns I haven’t been able to maintain in the past.