One of the hardest lessons for an amateur magician to learn is how to effectively include rest and non-action into the working of magical effect. The tendency is to rush through the moves and sleights in order reach the climax or revelation as quickly as possible. This cramming together of each move, without space in between, effectively robs the illusion its power and effectiveness.
For example, take a classic production trick, where an empty hand is seen to ‘magically’ produce a coin. Obviously there are skills and movements that must be learned and mastered in order to perform this effect. However the magic-creating moment actually occurs in the space between the action and the revelation. It is in the space, where the magician is motionless and the spectator silent where the trick truly lies. In this space of rest the magician and spectator join together in anticipating what will occur before them. The ability to stop and rest produces the space where both magician and spectator enter into the dynamic of the illusion.
Magicians, Musicians, Weight-lifters, they have all learned the necessity and importance of this space of rest and silence. Why is it so hard for us to cultivate this same sense of rest in our spiritual lives?
It can be easy for us to make our spiritual lives about the need to do more or try harder. We trick ourselves into thinking that rest equals laziness. Yet in this we condemn ourselves to struggling with underserved feelings of guilt and shame. Instead of understanding rest as a place in which we are invited to partake in something dynamic, we view it rather as a place of absence, a place of nothing, a place to be avoided. We become deaf to Christ call to ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31) Because of this we weigh ourselves down under the cry of pray more, give more, serve more, do more and be more. Yet without rest, our faith get’s lost in the over-abundance of activity. What is more, that one person, for whom we are to do all these actions, is left at the sideline of our activity, waiting for the moment where we may be able to stop and interact with him.
Yes the Christian life is a lived-out life, but this does not mean we move in an endless run from moment to moment. Rather our spiritual lives include those necessary times in which we are motionless and silent before the one who is truly greater than ourselves. The power of the Christian life is predicated on what happens here, in the place in which we stop, relax and rest in the dynamic presence of Sovereign Lord. Our faith breathes through the ability to take our focus off of ourselves and all the actions that we are engaged, and onto the one in whose presence is light and life. And, like the workings of any trick or illusion, the more activity we do the more we need those active, life-giving moments of stillness and rest.
How do you include rest and stillness in your life? What are the main things that often detract your from this discipline?