By Nancy Jo Sullivan
Be still and know that I am God. ~ Psalm 46:10
On my way out of church last Sunday, I passed a row of windows that framed an outdoor courtyard. I paused. Bare trees shivered in the wind, and a lifeless garden lay covered with snow. But through the glass, a statue of St. Francis rose proudly from the drifts, his stone arms extended in prayer. His image seemed to proclaim: “It’s winter. Take time to be still.”
These days, stillness can be elusive. Many of us work from home and balance the responsibilities of a job, family, and home. Ringtones and computers distract us, and the daily news is dire. Our worries often silence the soft promptings of God.
Still, there may be ways to integrate stillness into our lives. One of my colleagues closes the door of his home office every day at noon. For 15 minutes, he listens to soft music and sounds from the sea. Another friend takes an afternoon break from her home-based job and drives to a chapel near her home. There, with eyes closed, she bows her head and prays. During my lunch break, I bundle up in layers of mittens and scarves. While walking on a trail near my home, I relish the quietness of winter. Even though it’s cold, my spirit feels the warmth of God’s presence.
Is there time in your day for a stillness break? If so, the benefits might alter the course of your day. In the silence, perhaps you might ask: Lord, where are you leading me? What doors do you want to open? What changes do I need to make? When you close your eyes and breathe deeply, your private prayers can be freely offered. A quiet pause is just enough time to thank God for the blessings in your life.
As we dream of warmer days, let us consider the image of St. Francis standing steadfast in the snow. Though the winds of uncertainty are blowing, we can be still, too.
Call to Action
Consider making the words of St. Francis part of your stillness routine. Each day, try pondering one line from the prayer shared below.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love, when there is injury pardon, where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
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Nancy, I love this! As I finished my lectio divina and prayer this morning in my newly redecorated (and clean… for the moment) living room, I looked out over a snow-covered garden and thought, “Luckily the sower in today’s Gospel wasn’t trying to garden in Minnesota in January!” But, soon I found myself relishing the stillness. Then, I read your post and God confirmed the message—”Even though it’s cold, my spirit feels the warmth of God’s presence.”
So great to read your writing again! You are a gift!
This is lovely, thank you!