Ordinary, Everyday Stillness
It is easy for us to forget ordinary, everyday stillness.
We get a little overwhelmed and think sacred stillness requires a specific time or place. If stillness is sacred, we assume, it probably needs a sacred space or schedule.
Some of us believe stillness is not really sacred unless we experience it in a certain way. We seem to think it is the way we listen which makes stillness sacred.
Many of us are not comfortable with sacred stillness we cannot understand or control. We prefer our everyday lives organized into manageable, bite sized pieces. With work and family, rest and friends, we want sacred stillness to fit into its own box, its own category.
Listening to stillness which overflows and fills our lives makes us nervous.
Right now we are probably thinking about something else. We do not have time to focus on reflection or stillness. Let us finish thinking about this and we will spend time listening to sacred stillness when it is convenient.
It frustrates us when we cannot fit sacred stillness where we want it and get it to stay there.
We want to decide when stillness is helpful or appropriate and when it is not. The stillness we have become accustomed to experiencing, the spiritual life we remember from when we were young.
Some of us believe sacred stillness belongs in rooms with stained glass windows or elaborate decoration. Do we think sacred stillness is fragile and must be protected? Should only certain people should be allowed to touch it so it will not get broken?
Sacred stillness is too valuable to be kept away from us and is strong enough to be shared.
I believe in the beauty of ordinary, everyday stillness. It is the quality of stillness to transform the everyday.
Everyday Stillness is Sacred
Some of us see ourselves as human beings who occasionally experience spiritual life. In fact, we are spiritual beings who experience human life.
We are not able to control spiritual life, to become more spiritual or less. We try to do things which help us remember, help us be less oblivious, help us grow. Sacred stillness fills us and the world around us even when we are not listening.
Spiritual life draws us into itself even when we are not paying attention.
We tell ourselves some experiences feel more spiritual, meaning they feel spooky or we tingle. Actually, everything everywhere is filled with spiritual life and meaning all the time.
My experience of spiritual life is steeped in the Christian tradition. I have been “born again,” baptized, confirmed, received as a lay person into a monastic community. The ways I relate to sacred stillness have shaped my appreciation of spiritual life for longer than I can remember.
While I am an experienced explorer of spiritual life, I discover new things every day.
Spiritual life challenges us. There is always something new.
Spiritual life is alive everywhere, in everything, in everyone. We cannot nail it down or control it. The closest we can come to understanding and explaining spiritual life is listening to sacred stillness.
Our lives are immersed in an ordinary, everyday stillness which is sacred.
There are times in each day when we need to stop, breathe, and listen to sacred stillness. For some of us, practicing this listening opens us to experience the sacred in the everyday.
Everyday stillness is not magic and not special, hidden knowledge. We listen and the stillness reminds us who we are.
Discovering Everyday Stillness
We do not need to wear any particular clothes or use special equipment to listen to sacred stillness. It is not what we are wearing or what we use which makes everyday stillness sacred.
There is nothing especially sacred about wherever we are or whenever we decided to listen to stillness. Neither our location nor the calendar contribute to the sacredness of stillness.
We will not gain special spiritual insights or powers by listening to sacred stillness. The sacredness of the stillness is not about any magical effect it might have on us.
We are not listening to make ourselves more sacred, more spiritual. A practice of listening to everyday stillness helps us become more open to the sacredness which already exists.
The only thing we need to do, the only requirement of listening to sacred stillness, is the actual listening.
Each day is a new opportunity to practice opening ourselves to spiritual life around and within us. We are not struggling to memorize deep truths or special words. Our practice is not about teaching us skills we need to become more spiritual.
We practice listening to everyday stillness because everyday life is sacred. The life we live each day is an expression of spiritual life flowing through us. There is no barrier, no distinction, between spiritual life and everyday life.
Listening to sacred stillness is about taking time each day to practice being open to life within us and around us. Everyday life is spiritual life. Sacred stillness is everyday stillness.
Spiritual Life in Everyday Stillness
We listen and our contemplation opens us to the sacred all around us and within us. Our practice of listening opens our ears and opens our eyes to the beauty we have missed.
Recognizing spiritual life in everyday stillness shows us how we have allowed ourselves to get in our own way. Our expectations and plans, our regrets and fantasies, our minds and hearts have distracted us.
We have constructed artificial limitations which have kept us from living true lives.
Taking the time to stop and listen helps us reach past the artificial and breathe in what is real.
We have everything we need to practice listening to sacred, everyday stillness.
When will we recognize ordinary, everyday stillness today?
How will we listen to the sacred in everyday stillness this week?
[Image by Gerry Dincher]
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.