Wednesday, March 19, 2008
“Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is.” --Amy Carmichael
A famous Zen story tells of a monk whose temple is invaded by an enemy warrior. "Do you know that I have the power to kill you with this sword?" the warrior says. The monk replies, "Do you know that I have the power to let you?" Such a stillness of the mind is something that I experience most when I'm on the water. But the ability to empty my mind and settle into inwardness can also occur in a crowded room.
I think that I'm beginning to understand that love and trust pave the way to inner stillness. The placing of trust can be in something truly great such as a Higher Power or it can be in something limited such as my own mind or will. The latter will let me down every time.
The program teaches me to to surrender my will, check my ego, and be in touch with a power greater than myself.
Stillness is not something that I can will to happen. But I can be open to receive it. I think that I've been comfortable with the beauty of nature all my life. The moments of stillness that come closest to spirituality are those spent surrounded by the wonders of nature and an unspoiled landscape.
But I have also been part of a working life in which there is very little time to feel stillness. I haven't run to escape stillness but have not let it overtake me when there were things to do and life itself seemed to be in the way. I've been agitated to the point of exhaustion over the alcoholic, my ailing parents, job duties and countless other things that kept stillness at a distance.
Now I'm finding more times during the day when I can be open to the stillness within me. And by being receptive and quieting my thoughts, I am open to answers that come from within.