14 February 2013

be still? or still be?

'be still, and know that i am God.' (ps. 46.10)

it's one of my favourite statements in all of literature. a call to slow down, let go, and simply be in the Presence in the moment. my heart rate automatically reduces ever so slightly whenever i hear or read these words.
and then i try to 'be still'. even for a few brief moments. and as i withdraw from my daily activities -whether in the morning, afternoon, or evening - and the cacophony around me fades away into quiet, i find in that exterior silence a whole new cacophony emerging from deep within me.
voices that distract me with meaningless trivia and information, mindless entertainment and endless repetition of songs and jingles that, more often than not, i just can't stand. voices that remind me of how often i forget things that need to get done, people that need to be seen and engaged, friendships near and far that need to be nurtured. voices that call me to think more, feel more, care more, do more, BE more.
and all the while, a most familiar voice from deep within whispers to me that, when all is said and done, i really don't amount to much as a human being in this world.
'be still'? it's hard for me to do that and 'be sane' in the process.

when the noise outside of me gives way to the noise inside of me, i turn to those older and wiser than me to help make some sense of it all. i read insights from 'spiritual masters' who i admire and trust. and they speak to me with one unequivocal voice. when it comes to trying to 'be still' and listen to the Silence and let it do its life-giving work within me, and the inevitable distractions come, they give me the following advice:
'let them be'.
don't try and battle them into submission because, in the end, you'll be as successful as trying to nail jello to a wall. don't follow them down the endless rabbit trails on which they want to lead you, because then you'll miss the whole point of spending time with the Silence - reconnecting with the Ground of all being, the Love that gives you life, the Truth that sets you free.
let them be...because what you are ultimately looking for and longing for, what you most need and desire, is not many, but One.
let them be...because while your eyes dart in all directions and your ears hear a multiplicity of sounds, your heart races and skips and flutters anxiously as your life flies past you in a seemingly meaningless blur, there is One set of eyes always fixed on you, One voice that sings a song only for you, One heart beating a rhythm of life for you, One life given in love for you.
'be still...and know that I am God.'

i come out of moments where i do truly slow down enough to experience that Presence and remember Whose i am and who i am. and then i have to somehow re-enter the rat race, the tyranny of the urgent, the dynasty of the dysfunctional, within myself and all around me.
'be still'? or 'be in-sane'?
in the midst of this struggle, i came across another reading of the passage mentioned above, another version of the same Hebrew text that, while essentially the same, has a subtle difference to it that makes quite a difference in how one hears it...
'let be then...and know that I am God' (ps 46.10, new english bible).
i love the mystery and complexity of Hebrew because tiny phrases can have so many layers of possibilities and dimensions of meaning. just like the hieroglyphics of our lives.
'be still' sounds like a call to silence in the presence of the One who speaks in a still, small voice.
'let be then' sounds both like the wisdom to allow the distractions that inevitably pop up in the midst of the silence to simply be, AND the invitation to continue walking through the challenges and the joys in the cacophony of everyday life in much the same way.

to 'be still' in the sacred silence, and to 'let be then' in the chaotic clamour that arises within and without.
to be still. and to still be.

i guess Lent reminds me that i need to practice the one in order to more fully live out the other.