Stillness

Be still and know. Why is that such a battle sometimes?

cozy chair with blanket and pillow
With constant movement, the real picture of life's surroundings blurs.

It is the early morning, the dark quiet stillness, before anyone is awake, even the puppy. It’s my favorite time of the day, really, before I wake the troops. I sit in my chair with my coffee, a blanket, a sweater, my favorite pillow. I look up from my journal and cast my eyes upward at the pictures of my family.The hum of the washer and dryer while I read my morning Bible devotional is the just the meditative sound that I need to help me listen for guidance and tap into love.


Movement's Badge of Honor

I fought a lot of years to work out first thing in the morning. I think it started with Bill Phillip’s Body for Life challenge I completed back in 2000. It was the turn of the new century, Y2K did not lead to economic collapse, and as as a young working adult, my biggest challenge was getting myself out of bed after a night staying up too late watching stand-up comedy on TV with my now-husband. Victorious in the morning battle, I would slay the day like a dance. But as I grew older and the clashing demand of my days increased --my teaching, parenting, home, creative projects, and responsibilities-- what my soul most craves is stillness.


Yet my mind carried a different vision, formed from an old battle. I clung to movement's badge of honor and carried self-criticism and judgment each day in small ways for years.The idealized me of my vision worked out first thing in the morning, pushing herself through the last minute of her workout, chanting motivational mantras in her mind as she does it. Anything less, defeat.


Reality is rarely ideal; defeat, difficult to define. Wrapped in my warm sweater, battlefield silent, I curl up on my chair and search for words and listen to that still, small voice that gets drowned out by the warring noise of all the needs of the day surrounding me.


Capture

I look up and I see the snapshots of life moments captured in the framed pictures in my hallway. I remember those battles too, the fun amidst the struggle to get my kids to sit still long enough to be able to take the picture. Oh, how difficult it is for us to be still.


Stillness. In order to capture the moment, we must allow for stillness. To process the beauty enough to be able to step back to look at our lives and those we love, we need to be still.


If all I do is run and beat myself up with disappointment when I fail, however will I be able to pause long enough to get my bearings, to choose the next direction? However will I be able to capture the beauty of the moment of my life frozen in time?


The gentle hum of the washing machine is reminder enough of work getting done. It’s okay to sit now.

Be still and know I am God. Psalm 46:10


Surrounded

My husband, my kids, my dogs are sleeping, and their presence is a reminder that I am surrounded by love. In fact, my chair sits in our loft surrounded on each of the sides by bedrooms. I literally sit in the center of this circle. Perhaps it is no wonder that I feel centered during this morning ritual.


“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was good.”

In that simple moment of stillness, the perfect creator and do-er, paused to reflect.


I look back at the pictures of my kids hugging each other and my husband and I sitting together on a warm, fall day, and, behold, it is good.


Those last five (or ten) pounds don’t matter. I release that morning workout dance of shame. I embrace instead the daily cocoon, at least as the first action. I move to center, surround myself in love, listen in the stillness. Behold what is good, before I return to the swirling circle of my life.