in Notes of Encouragement, Stillness
I am writing you this note of encouragement as the whirling and churning of your mind is evident in the busyness that I see you indulging in day by day. Your thoughts charging ahead so fast in an effort to escape the things that you would rather remain unsaid, the sobs that are at the back of your throat begging to be released. I have been where you are, consuming myself with items on my agenda in order to walk through the door and collapse into sleep before the silence comes to reckon with me.
The winter that followed my divorce was exceptionally cold and snowy by Nashville, TN, standards. One evening when my typical after-work distraction of dinner with friends or some event or another was cancelled due to impassable roads, I was forced to sit with myself in the quiet of my living room.
I heard a loud CRACK, and the motion sensor light went off on the side of the house looking over the driveway. Afraid that someone was trying to break in, I sneaked into my office for a better view, and I was awestruck to find this image illuminated in my driveway:
When I ventured out earlier in the evening, I had impossibly drawn two perfectly intertwined hearts in the snow with the tires of my car.
A skeptic would call this happenstance or coincidence, but I had this sense that it was a sign of abiding peace and comfort on an incredibly painful and lonely night when I had considered myself utterly alone.
That night I began the Practice of Stillness when I decided to flip off the television and put down my phone to sit with all of my loneliness and sadness. I was moved to pick up a little orange book that had been given to me by my friend Reiko. Its title, Jesus Calling, felt sappy, but the words allowed me to tune into the deep sense of peace that had illuminated that love note in my driveway and begin what would be the truly transformative part of this pursuit.
I couldn’t name it or grasp it then, but I knew that something was compelling me toward a relationship of profound love and assurance. I understood that if I could learn to just be I would be able to hear and see and touch and sense all the ways in which this force was compelling me forward through the ruins of that life I had masterfully tried to build. I chose to Practice Stillness by sitting in my yard each morning, reading the daily passage from Jesus Calling, and writing a response to what I had read in a journal. And through this conversation, I came to understand that it was in the stillness that I was finding a trusting relationship with the author of its words, who was literally CALLING for me.
The Tao te Ching says, “The Master leads by emptying people’s minds and filling their cores, by weakening their ambition and toughening their resolve. He helps people lose everything they know, everything they desire, and creates confusion in those who think they know. Practice non-doing, and everything will fall into place.” You will begin the Practice of Stillness when you choose to disconnect from all of the ways in which you seek to distract yourself from the pain, the loneliness, and the fear and allow your mind to empty. Turn off the television, power down your phone, leave the crowded bar, and sit in the Stillness long enough to hear the message. Some days it will appear to you as a sign, other days through the voice of a stranger or the lyrics of a song. But, the voice of the Spirit will reach you in that Stillness, and therein you will find the stepping-stones laying a path to redemption.
You are loved,