“Be still, and know that I am God.” ~Psalm 46.10
I am seldom still. My friends all know that I am a high-energy kind of person, an extreme extrovert (I get my energy just from being around other people), with a little ADHD tossed in the mix for good measure. So sitting still doesn’t fit into my normal daily routine. Even when I am sitting, I fidget. I doodle, I take notes, I multi-task. I’m also not the type of person to have just one thing on the go – I like a good combination of tasks and hobbies to keep my brain and body equally active – I love my ministry in serving a 5-point rural parish; I read voraciously (usually 3 or 4 books on the go at any given time), I run with the dogs, I do some writing, I volunteer, I sing in the shower (and kitchen, and grocery store…). I’m the typical ‘distracted-by-shiny-object’ kind of person.
Even when I’m in normally calm settings, I’m always on the go. This past weekend I had the joy of spending some time with the church family at a friends’ cabin. It was gorgeous – the sun was shining, the breeze was gentle, we were deliciously engulfed in the natural surroundings of Manitoba’s wilderness. And we had great conversations, ranging from the rectory, to garden gnomes, to family, to summer vacation plans, to people reading The Community blogs. It was fantastic – and still I was fidgeting. It really is just who I am when I’m in a healthy state. I know I’m in an unhealthy state if I’m physically still for an extended period of time.
As a high-energy person, I’m sometimes aware that our churches can sometimes present themselves to be lower-energy places. There’s lots of time for pause and reflection, lots of time for stillness. And don’t get me wrong – I enjoy those moments. But I still fidget a little during them; in quiet and small ways, but fidgetting nonetheless. It’s not because I’m bored or distracted, it’s just who and how I am. There are some people who have been offended by this, suggesting that I am not being adequately spiritual or intentional about my prayers; as though a lack of physical stillness suggests a spiritual chaos. And not just my own acceptance of this spiritual chaos, but a desire to spread chaos to others as well.
After all, stillness is a state of calm; it’s returning to the source; it’s quietness and gentleness and peace.
So while some can only understand stillness as it’s demonstrated in the physical sense, I understand stillness in a different way.
For me, stillness is internal, not external. It’s in the calmness that comes to my heart and mind when I am sitting in the peace of God. It’s in knowing that no matter what happens on the outside, my relationship with the divine is in a healthy state. It’s in knowing that I can be truly me – all the good, the bad, the neutral – without holding anything back. It’s in knowing that I am loved, and am called to love, without barriers. It’s in celebrating who I am over what I do that matters most. It’s in recognising that I am a spiritual being having a (temporary) human experience, not a human being having a (temporary) spiritual experience. It’s in knowing my God, and delighting in that knowledge.
So yes, I fidget on the outside. I do this because I am still and calm and at peace on the inside. It’s given me the joy of re-examining what it means to be still – to delight in that stillness – and to realise that we all come to stillness in different ways. We all come to God’s peace in different ways. And we are all embraced once we reach our unique stillness, and know that God is there.