The Quality of Stillness
After my sixtieth birthday, Jo and I took a two-month sabbatical, staying in two very remote locations; first a month in the wilds of Ardnamurchan in the Highlands, and the next month in a tiny hamlet in the foothills of the Pyrenees. I started writing down my thoughts on the quality of stillness, as against purely quietness, both of which we were immersed in for those two months – no surprise to say that after twelve years, I seem to have lost or mislaid those notes!
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it again, as I surprisingly experience that quality of stillness once more on a little bit of shingle bank in Norman’s Bay, looking across to Eastbourne and Beachy Head, with a field of sheep behind with a kestrel overhead. Quietness perhaps is an absence of noise that I record through my ears; stillness is something that affects me deep within, in my innermost being – when I am quietened in my soul. For me, stillness doesn’t depend completely on the absence of all noise, though this can enhance it. On this bit of beach, I can hear a train going by in the distance, or a car on the road, but I suppose the noise and clamour of my thoughts are stilled, and I am at peace, and one with Jesus.
This morning I read this little piece by Rabbi Rami Shapiro that really resonated with me:
Imagine not that life is all doing.
Stillness, too, is life;
and in that stillness
the mind cluttered with busyness – quiets
the heart reaching to win – rests,
and we hear the whispered truths of God.
So I’m asking, where do you find stillness? And if you cry “Nowhere!”, might I suggest you ask Jesus to help you think it through, and discover where that might be; be it sitting by a window looking at a beautiful tree, listening to a piece of serene music or walking up on the Downs!