By Bradley Robertson
Where does one begin to find the still? You begin by finding it in just one place…
I cannot pinpoint when this skill became a way of life for me, but I know it has been woven into my days all along. I remember sitting so still with my newborn babies, and I hated for the moment to pass away. I have watched my very small children be so still and engaged in a toy or in the dirt to see that they have “the still” better than me. When they would get antsy as toddlers, picking them up and holding them close in my arms along with soft, spoken words would calm them in seconds. It was the stillness from the chaos that did the trick. Bringing them back to a centered space and allowing the absence of an unknown world.
Stillness is an act of meditation. It is a way to bring our thoughts and emotions back to a space of calm and clarity. Stillness can take us from hyped up energy and stress to centered thought and focus. And if there is one thing I struggle with, it’s focus. I have 25 things to do right now and I can only choose one at a time.
I think that over time, our plate of life has become fuller and fuller. Our cultural expectations of success and home life have pushed an envelope beyond our reach. We feel as though we should work well, friend well, travel well, church well, cook well and have a perfectly set home. At the end of the day, even if these things are accomplished, our soul can still feel demolished.
Please tell me, how in the world are we to do everything exceptionally?
We cannot. We can try, but the success will always be outward and rarely inward.
Stillness is a way to find inward peace. It’s a way to seek our own thoughts, grab onto our own words and listen to ourselves. It’s a way to connect better with our families and friends. It’s a way to self-serve so that when duty calls back to us, we are ready and present.
A reading I recall often from Author Ian Morgan Cron says, “The first greatest mystery in the world is ‘Who is God?’ and the second greatest mystery is ‘Who am I in God?’”
I think we are quick to forget ourselves. We serve and move and reach the world, and we forget our own compass. We forget how to listen to us. We forget that our own soul needs just as much love and attention as everyone else.
I’m sharing the places I found stillness with hope of leading you to find yours. The peace that we bring into our own lives carries into everyone we meet and know.
The first place I intentionally found stillness was first thing in the morning before my children awoke for school. I learned that if I could have a little peace and coffee before the duty of mom, I was a much better mother. I began to set aside 15 minutes before the children awoke, to be alone with me. It didn’t take much time, just discipline.
My next favorite place for stillness, was a church pew. Every Sunday. Every single Sunday unless I was sick. The work and effort it took to get into that pew with young kids and a baby was longwinded, but to finally have that stillness each Sunday was worth every second.
Another place of stillness I enjoy is side by side with one of my children reading a book. Whether it be Dr. Seuss, The Diary of Anne Frank or Tim Tebow, the stillness between me and child is perfection. The beauty here is the peace it brings to both of us. It’s a bonus: calm for them and calm for me.
When we can find one simple place to be still, our minds begin to grow and make room for more places. We soon realize that stillness can be in any part of our day.
Stillness is in a short gaze at a maple tree that you love in the fall. It’s staring into a stream or river and breathing in the gratitude of life.
Stillness is a sunrise that you failed to witness in months and now you see it. And you don’t just see it quickly and keep moving, you see it for what feels like forever, but only took 5 minutes of life.
Stillness is stopping to speak to someone you haven’t seen in a while and honoring the space between you even though you are running late to a meeting.
Stillness is a tight squeeze from my husband at the end of the day in our kitchen. I close my eyes and I don’t let go. I tune out the wild and breathe in our life together. Our time will pass, but I want to know I soaked it up and lived it fully.