When I dubbed this blog ‘be still and know’, I was giving myself a stern talking to. I don’t do being still. And if I am stationary, it is the posture for eating and procrastinating on social media, not knowing. Knowledge, in my economy, comes through reading, not resting. Words are the lens through which I see the world. (Hence the debate with my chemistry teacher when I exclaimed that the word ‘solid’ just seemed to fit my experience of tables and chairs than this ‘electrons flying around’ nonsense ). If I don’t verbalise, then I don’t fully see. So, each part of my day deserves a five line paragraph, as if it might be followed up by the ‘comprehension questions’ that we used to have in primary school English lessons. Which, most of the time, is fine, because words have been my most consistent playmate. But rifling around my mind-thesaurus for the perfect word can feel pretty burdensome. What if I miss marks from my imaginary interrogator because I didn’t describe the smell? What if I read too quickly a verse in the Bible that would make an epic doctrinal tussle suddenly settle? What, oh heavens what, happens if I can’t put my finger on the word I need, and I chase it, hunting in every nook and cranny of my noggin, and it still isn’t there? It’s like Piccadilly Circus in here.
But- proud moment- I managed to still myself for a few minutes the other day, as my train went past a (what else) sunset that turned the whole sky magenta. I’m truly sorry for being so cliché, but maybe that was the point. It was like God was saying ‘look at this sunset… and you might as well shut up because trust me, everything that could be said about a sunset has been said like a bajillion times. There literally is nothing new under the…’ If, yknow, God did puns. And, there truly wasn’t anything to say. I couldn’t list all the colours in it, say where it ended or began, or precisely pinpoint how it made me feel. Just that I wanted to hold onto it and how it asked for watching not narrating.
And then today- see, I was so good, I left it ages before I verbally processed- I thought about how the opening lines of the Bible are filled with the same awe-filled silence.
‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.’
It’s that majestic stillness that makes people ‘find God’ in oceans and mountains and, yes, sunsets. And after speaking, God always leaves time for seeing. Say, then see, say then see. Rather than my saysaysaysaysaysaysaysaysaysaysleepsaysaysaysaysaysaysaysleep. Oh poor Genesis, I’m sorry that we politicise your every word- scuffling over each phrase and comma to tell us everything from the age of the earth, to gender, to how we should spend our Sundays. We have filled in each of your lines with at least a hundred treatises. No wonder Babel happens so soon in the story: us and our words tearing each other to pieces. I know we should want to honour God in how we relate to all these things. But sometimes, I think, a bit of stillness might make the love flow between us better.
Father, make me want stillness more than I want to be right. Help my words to quiet themselves before your Word.
P.S. For evidence of my ability to overthink everything- today, I found myself wondering what happened to the conventional rubbish bin-manufacturers since all train stations have to have those unattractive lidded carrier bag contraptions; I hope they haven’t gone out of business. No one needs to talk to themselves that much