Why is Stillness So Sacred?
My experience teaches me there is a deep and powerful sacredness in stillness.
Many of us take time each day to listen to stillness and find the sacred in it. We pause the whirling tumult of thoughts and feelings, memories and fantasies in our minds. Taking an opportunity to listen to what stillness offers us allows us to catch our breath.
Listening to stillness is healthy and helps us clear our minds. We welcome the peace and rest we can find in stillness. Does that make stillness sacred?
I know quite a few people who seem to think words are more sacred than stillness. Many of them get together to spend sacred time listening to people singing or talking. They appear to believe there is something sacred about preaching or exhortation.
We often appear to think our own words are more sacred than stillness. Words are how we try to understand and get a handle on the world around us. We share our insights and ask our questions, but often do not take time to reflect further.
The idea something might be beyond our understanding is challenging to us.
If we can talk or think about everything long enough we believe we can understand it all.
Is stillness so sacred if words are how we explore and comprehend? We may not be all that interested in discovering what is sacred for us.
The sacred in our lives draws us in subtle ways. The sacred truths may be beyond our willingness to describe or analyze them. We may be out of practice.
How is Stillness So Sacred?
Before I began learning to listen I was not particularly interested in stillness.
I lived in a world built on the power and beauty of words, of thinking, of analysis. My experience taught me life was a problem to be solved. My focus was on finding the right answers to life’s questions.
Some questions were more complicated than others. Life was about understanding. Each situation, each question, could be figured out and cataloged. We could understand the pieces and fit them together, though it might take some time.
I thought the sacred worked the same way. If we concentrated we could pull things into focus.
The challenge for me came when all the questions and expectations pushed me into a corner. What I believed was sacred was drawing me to go beyond my analysis. My carefully sorted categories began to fall apart. Sacred truths were leading me to go somewhere else.
I got to a point from which I could not figure out the next step. There were not enough words to take me further. My only choice was to stop and listen to hear what the stillness was trying to tell me.
I discovered communication includes both the words and the stillness. When the words have taken us as far as they can, listening to the stillness is our next step.
Is stillness so sacred it can take us beyond words? Yes, it can be.
Is Stillness So Sacred?
Our rational, intellectual analysis can take us far, but only so far. Life is more than what we can organize and understand.There are lessons in the stillness as well as in the words.
The deep truths all around us, and within us, are not limited by our ability to articulate them. We can hear and see more than we are able to put into words.
We may not even be able to hear it at first. It takes us practice to learn to listen to sacred stillness. Over time we begin to quiet our overactive minds and recognize what is sacred in stillness.
Some of us need to work on letting go of our overpowering need to analyze and understand.
When we find ourselves in a sacred space we take time to listen. It is not about powerful music or a challenging sermon. We listen to the sacred stillness of the place itself.
Stillness is not uniform, not the same wherever we find it. We may find stillness in places filled with other people’s talking. Sometimes we need to stop reading or watching to take a break from the words. We find ourselves needing to listen to sacred stillness.
Deep truths are embedded in stillness.
When we set aside the words and the thinking we may be able to listen to the stillness. The depth which is beyond our explanations waits for us in stillness.
Where is the Sacred in our Stillness?
We have become more comfortable with words than with stillness. Our lives are surrounded by and saturated with sound. Stillness has become something we need to seek to experience.
Each of us can find the sacred in our own ways in the stillness. There is no quick, easy checklist of how to discover sacred stillness for us to follow.
We sit down to take some time to listen to sacred stillness. It may feel a little unusual or uncomfortable at first. Do not let your discomfort be an obstacle to your listening.
It may have been some time since you have really listened to anything. When we listen we stop and pay attention. Our minds do not wander from distraction to distraction. We do not remind ourselves of all the other things we probably should be doing with our time.
Without effort, without straining, we open ourselves to the sacred in the stillness. We breathe and hear the rhythm of our own breath. Sacred truths beyond our understanding fill us with each breath.
There is no place more important to us, no work more significant to us, than listening to the sacred. We find the stillness within ourselves and listen to the sacred which flows in us.
We get out of our own way and listen to what we can hear.
Why is stillness so sacred for us this week?
Where will we go to find sacred stillness today?
[Image by Fraser Mummery]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.