Monday, September 13, 2010

Learning Stillness

Learning Stillness
I was reflecting the other night on my commute each week. Each day I drive 70 miles and spend about an hour and a half in the car. That’s a lot of time and it is valuable time as well. I think a lot of people that commute to work use the time to and from work to gather their thoughts or line up their day. And when they leave to head home, they decompress from their day and get ready for what they can do with “their time.”

As I was thinking about all this, I noticed that when I get in the car, I have developed a ritual over the years. Start the car, turn on the radio and then throw on the seat belt. Every time I get into the car I do the same thing in the same order and it made me ask a question: why am I in such a hurry to turn on the radio? I fix the volume or change the channel before I even have my seat belt on! Where are my priorities?

I think my rush to have the radio going is partly the result of my want to hear the news and maybe get a good laugh in the morning, but it is also something that I think has been conditioned by the way we live today. There are radios in every car, televisions in every room, phones in every pocket and portable computers and music players in every bag. So, amongst all these things where is the peace and quiet? Where is the stillness?

Last time I did one of these reflections I spoke about the need for discipline. I’ve recognized a need in my life to grow in the discipline of stillness. I need to learn better how to use that hour and a half in the car each day. I need to learn how to better hear the person I’m having lunch with. I need to learn how to hear God in both those situations and many others as well. This leads me to the story of the Prodigal Son we hear in this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 15:1-32). I think the son who leaves the Father’s house faced a lot of the same struggles that we see today. He immediately sought and was overcome by the culture and society that he entered. Eventually he discovered that the things he wanted, were not the same as the things his heart desired and he returned to the Father. He went back to the stillness. Returning to the stillness is not all that matters though. The older son in the story, never physically left the Father’s house, but his thoughts and his heart were led away. When his brother returned from what his Father described as death, he took no joy from it. He had lost a sense of what it meant to be with his Father. He had lost a sense of what it meant to be with love. Though he lived with the Father which the younger son gave up, the younger son demonstrated the desire that his older brother had been lacking.

So, now that we see that stillness is a physical state of being as well as a mental state of being, we have a series of questions to consider. How can we learn stillness? What things can we do to set ourselves up for success? Where is one place you can go to return to stillness? I pray that you spend time in the Father’s house this week. Blessed be God forever.

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