Listening to Sacred Stillness: When We Wait in Stillness

Listening to Sacred Stillness: When We Wait in Stillness January 29, 2019

When We Wait in Stillness

It is often a challenge for me to wait, and an even greater challenge for me to wait in stillness.

We generally do not enjoy waiting. Some of us can hardly wait for a certain time of day or a specific event. I know people who are struggling to wait until they finish school or until they find another job. Some of us are impatiently waiting to find the person we want to marry. We may be waiting to begin or waiting to finish.

Some of us spend a great deal of time in waiting rooms. We may be waiting for a cure or for the next round of treatment.

It seems to be getting more difficult for us to wait. Some drivers apparently do not like waiting for me to cross the street, even when I am in the crosswalk with the walk light. We work hard to avoid waiting in traffic.

Some of us are waiting for winter to turn into spring.

We may feel it is not fair when we need to wait. It feels like other people are getting ahead of us and we have been waiting longer than they have.

Some of us really do not like to wait for customer service, either in person or on the phone.

Many of us do not want to wait in stillness. We want everyone to know we are waiting and have been for a long time. It is important to us for people to appreciate how patiently we have been waiting and how long it has taken.

We believe the squeaky wheel gets the grease and we want as much grease as we can get.

Why would anyone want to wait in stillness? How do we affect other people when we wait in stillness?

Why We Wait in Stillness

I was brought up to believe in having the right answers. One aspect of having the answers is getting there does not take very long. Life is about having the answers, not about waiting to get them; about knowing, not about learning.

It can be a challenge for me to find value in waiting. Waiting feeds our fears and insecurities. What if the waiting never ends and we never get the object of our waiting? Is there more we can do to make sure we reach the end?

One of the things I like least about waiting is it is such a tangible demonstration that things are beyond me. I cannot know everything, do everything, make everything right. I cannot prepare for every eventuality. Waiting involves trust.

It can be easy for us to see waiting as an indicator we are not ready or worthy to receive something. We are not good enough, have not earned something, need to work harder. If only we were better we would not need to wait.

One of the first things I do when I finish waiting for something is start waiting for something else.

I often try to distract myself when I am waiting by thinking about the other things I could be doing, checking my email. It is a challenge for me to appreciate the time I spend waiting as an opportunity to listen to sacred stillness.

We can learn how to wait well, how to wait in ways which feed our souls. There are ways for us to open ourselves to our waiting and find the stillness in it. We can accept the waiting for the gift it is and take advantage of it.

We can learn to wait in stillness and see what happens next.

How We Wait in Stillness

Our contemplative practices help us learn how to wait in stillness.

As we practice listening to sacred stillness we begin to experience what it means to let go of our fears. We take a few moments to sit and wait in stillness. There is no need for us to present long wish lists to God, to remind God again and again what we need or desire.

We begin to understand when we wait in stillness we are are starting to trust. It is not important for everyone else to know we are waiting or for how long we have already waited.

Even our own waiting in stillness is not something we control. As we wait in stillness the stillness grows within us. We wait in stillness and share our stillness with the people around us.

Our conscious decision to wait in stillness increases the amount of stillness in the world.

We close our eyes, take a few deep breaths, and we begin to wait in stillness. For a few moments we appreciate we are not responsible for everything. Our schedule, our calendar, our plans are not the guiding force of the universe.

We Wait in Stillness

When we wait in stillness we recognize and restore the balance of life. There are adventures to discover in the world around us. The other people, even the other drivers, are not simply obstacles in our path.

Whatever we are trying to do at any given moment may not be the most significant thing in the universe. When we wait in stillness the rest of the immense picture comes into view.

As we wait in stillness we begin to recognize the intricate texture of everything around us and within us. We breathe in stillness and breathe out the pressures we put on ourselves.

There can be deep wisdom in waiting. We wait in stillness and we begin to appreciate the strength we find.

When we wait in stillness we begin to look beyond the stresses and strains we feel. We start to understand what lies beneath the frustrations and aggravations which get under our skin.

Our willingness and ability to wait in stillness grows with practice. We listen to sacred stillness and we begin to trust.

When will we wait in stillness today?

How will our ability to wait in stillness shape our actions this week?

[Image by renaissancechambara]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, and his email address is

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