Be Still My Soul

Still water of a lake. The Sea of Galilee perhaps.

O sabbath rest by Galilee
O calm of hills above
Where Jesus knelt
to share with thee
the silence of eternity
interpreted by love

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in mid October in this quiet, secret back garden. I’m surrounded by trees and bushes with not a house window visible. This is a precious place. I find it easy to be still and quiet here. Out in the open air, prayer seems to come naturally. I’m in a beloved garden with the evidence of a Creator all around me and in the sky above..

Of course there is the inevitable background noise of traffic passing through the Village centre. Open country would be better still, even by the sea of Galilee! But here at home, I find peace enough. God delights to spend time with us and here it’s easy to feel conscious of his presence. An opportunity to hang around and spend with him, with no fixed agenda, just a blank page waiting. With other things set aside, this is a day of Sunday sabbath rest.   

in an autumn garden

Timely silence is precious, for it is nothing less than the mother of the wisest thoughts.”  

From Henri Nouwen’s book – ‘The Way of the Heart’.

If I am to grow in my Christian faith I need to spend times like this listening in stillness to God’s still small voice. Such times of stillness are what Richard Foster called the ‘little solitudes of life’. Time is not wasted here. Moments like this can be the most spiritually productive occasions of life. Out of them flow new discoveries of God’s love and purpose for my life. I find a recharging of batteries. a source of creative inspiration and a re-focusing of vision. Here I am refreshed by face -to-face or side-by-side encounter with God    This is time to enjoy God just for himself.

As if to confirm all this, the church clock in the village strikes the hour. This has been an hour or more of delight. I return inside altogether a better person, whole and restored.  

Boat on still lake

I go among trees and sit still,
All my stirring becomes quiet 
around me like circles on water. 
My tasks lie in their places 
where I left them, asleep like cattle.”

I leave work’s daily rule
And come here to this restful place
Where music stirs the pool
And from high stations of the air
Fall notes of wordless  grace,
Strewn remnants of the primal Sabbath’s hymn

From ‘This Day ; Sabbath Poems’ by Wendell Berry
Lindisfarne island, Northumbria
Lindisfarne – ‘Holy Island’

I’m challenged by the examples of great men and women of the past. Patrick in Ireland; Columba on his island of Iona living in his primitive dwellings with the other monks. Their monastic community becoming a beacon to spread the Christian Faith through Scotland and on to Lindisfarne and to the rest of England. Then there’s Cuthbert on his remote Farne Islands near Lindisfarne. Alone with the wind, the sea birds and the sound of the sea his only companions, other than the presence of his God. Choosing to be alone while others were clamouring for him to leave his island and get involved with the active work of the church. But what a legacy he has left behind him.

  I think too, of those monks on dramatic, rocky Skellig Michael, off the S.W. coast of Ireland, far from civilization, but close to their Creator. Who knows what their devotion and life of prayer and worship has achieved. This tiny rocky outcrop in the Atlantic ocean has a prayerful atmosphere that visitors can still notice today.

Be still my Soul.

That was ‘then’. Now what about me today? I sit still, calm and with an open heart with my God. Eternity begins here.

To read more about Stillness and Silence see the post ‘Solitude, Stillness and Silence…

Return to ‘The Wellspring’

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