I’ve just returned from time away at a place that is full of beauty. I’ve been there before, but it was not full of last year’s beauty. It was newly lovely. In fact, daily lovely. Each day, it was filled with a new beautiful. A new personality.
It felt effortless to run around this lake. Perhaps because I took my camera, ready to stop for a photo. Beauty does that. It stops you. Gets your attention. Insists you tarry for a while. I even let that guy with the knee brace on one knee pass me (several times). He was going places. I was meandering.
And so it was. I ambled along the path, jogging, stopping, walking, looking. I even threw in a bit of note-taking in my phone’s notebook app. Because beauty does that. It inspires ideas and notions. It puts them together in a way that is new and lovely and clear. And worth sharing. Perhaps blogging.
One notion said, “Run the lake, but walk the bridges.”
So I ran. And as I approached the bridge over the dam, two walkers noticed my approach and moved to the right to let me pass.
“I don’t usually think of myself as a fast lane kind of person,” I called on the way by.
“Today is your day! Revel in the glory!”
And for a moment it was okay to do just that. Perhaps even for a whole day. Tomorrow will be new. And newly beautiful.
Funny how people tell you to “just be still.” My mind is never more stilled on God than when I am moving. Perhaps God runs along or within. Revs up the Him in me.
Traditional stillness is way too distracting for me.
On my drive to church I pass a lovely small man-made lake. It offers a focal point for the backyard of just a few homes. There is a dock, perhaps 15 feet long, that juts out from the far shore. I couldn’t quite reach it with a thrown stone, but almost.
Quite early on “spring ahead” morning, several weeks ago, I drove past this lake. The sun was rising in its face; it was stilled in its place as if it dare not move. The reflection of the trees and the dock and the houses was perfection. One almost could wonder which was real and which was the imitation.
Since that morning I have driven past the lake many times hoping for the return of that scene, the stillness a perfect reflector of the wonder before me, the calm X 2, heaven and earth come together in one place. A repeat performance if you will. But to no avail. If there’s a hint of wind or a paddling duck, or if it’s overcast or rainy, or if there’s snow…no stillness. No reflection. No photo op.
Today, I leave for church figuring the view will be perfect. Not a puff of breeze, and the sun is just rising, proclaiming itself through the trees. I even ready the camera on my phone so I can stop and snap to savor the moment. Looking ahead I can tell I am near. I check the oncoming traffic and cars behind so my slowing will not anger fellow drivers. All clear, I maneuver around the pot hole and pull beside the lake to look. There, in greens, browns and grays, the surface is entirely engulfed by waves, almost white caps. Not a meter of it is still.
How telling, really, of the week it has been. The turmoil, the unrest, the hardship, the pain. Why did I ever expect stillness? On this morning even the giant heavenly hand which holds back the wind doesn’t prevent the earth itself from shaking and jostling the waves.
I feel badly for that little lake. How hard must it be for those waves to be still, so perfectly still that they offer an uninterrupted reflection?
Suddenly it strikes me how real, how personal, this feels. Do they, like me, find it difficult to be still? I remember again that “spring ahead” sunrise morning and wonder at it. How hard those waters must have been working to be so still? If they can do it, can I?
They have challenged me. Can I be so perfectly still that I disappear? The only evidence of me, a glassy reflection from earth toward heaven and back again.
What power that would take. What utter control. Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee with but a wave of his hand. Me? I’ve got some work to do. Probably best just to start with one wave. On a very small lake. Perhaps a wave at my dinner table or one in my neighborhood.
The anatomy and physiology book from which I used to teach college students states, “Biologists have found that all living things share certain basic characteristics, including the following (in this order): responsiveness, growth and differentiation, reproduction, movement (internal or external), metabolism and excretion.
By internal movement, they mean the movement of things inside the organism. By external movement, they mean that the organism moves its whole self through its environment.
Things that are alive exhibit all these things. So, for abundant life, one maximizes the whole list, right? or does one take care to discern things that are life-giving and to steer clear of things that rob us of life? As a kinesthetic Christian, I find that I have a great deal of trouble doing this discernment when I sit still. Yes, scripture and numerous faithful people have advised, “Wendy, just be still and know.”
Thing is, stillness, especially with my eyes shut, invites mind-wandering and distraction. I find focus when I’m moving (and I find this is most safely done with my eyes open.) Not, necessarily with intended or pre-meditated movement, but just in allowing my body to move as it will. Or in a rhythmic, practiced sort of movement that comes naturally – like swimming laps or jogging on the flat. Sort of an “out of body experience, using my body.”
Another thing is when I am faced with indecision and at a standstill – still, especially stalled, not good for me, remember? – I lift the options in my mind (one might call it prayer) and find myself moving toward one option and away from the other. I haven’t made this decision consciously, but it’s been made. Then I proceed, slowly at first, until the Spirit confirms the direction by picking up steam.
What is Spirit steam? It’s an “aha, now I see it” or a “that’s just what I meant to say and now I see how to write it” or perhaps it is another person who offers verbal confirmation.
Of course I have learned the hard way that one must always be looking for stop signs and yield signs along this way, too. The sort of “you’ve gotten this wrong” or “I’ve changed my mind” indicator moments. Does God change his mind? I’m not sure. Usually I presume it’s me and not God who has re-routed, but I have learned that even the time headed down the “wrong path,” is redeemable. Something here is to be avoided or something here is to be learned. Perhaps next time I will need it. Perhaps next time I will heed it and it will keep me from veering off course.
But enough about the external movement, it’s the internal movement that really piques my interest. Not the motion of fluids or heart or lungs, all good, but the internal sensor of external movement. THAT speaks to me of God, sort of a God implanted GPS chip. Let’s chat about that tomorrow.