Hardest Thing Ever-To Be Still

DSC_0041_054There is a wonderful real-time event happening in a pine nest box in our back yard. A Bluebird has been laying her eggs in a nest she built while her mate guarded her as she worked. But a story like this needs photos. My goal last evening was to photograph the bluebird pair around the nest. The results?  One poor photo, far away. Can you find her perched in a flowering crabapple tree?

While this attempt failed as many do for me when photography of wildlife is my goal, something else happened. While attempting to photograph the bluebird, my attention began to shift to all of the things going on about me. Waiting for the bluebird to come close was the first time my attention and physical being had been stilled all day. All day busy, never still was my mindset. There was so much to do. While finishing one project, my mind was already focusing on the next. While all of these “projects” were outside, my body and mind were never still enough to see the life of a new season in all of its wonder and beauty. I was never still, all day-till my evening decision to take the camera out. Even then my mind was not still, my goals needed to be met: get photos of the pair of bluebirds.

Evening came. During our meal, my eyes often gazed at the tree outside our patio door. The blue birds were perched midway in the ash tree with new leaves growing on every branch and twig. This will be the evening for the bluebird photos I thought. I even anticipated my next blog post would be on the marvelous story of the bluebird. It would coincide beautifully with the feat she had accomplished this week: finishing her nest and laying one egg a day since Tuesday. But when the camera and photographer were set, the bluebirds were absent. Never once did they perch close for a photo.

While waiting something very pleasant happened. Waiting enabled me to be still. Waiting for the bluebird, my eyes and mind began to observe what surrounded me. My bluebird wait lasted at least 15 minutes before my attention began to shift to the living beauty around me.  The rich brown catkins on the birch tree framed by its emerald green leaves switched me from bluebird to the beauty. It came to me that the bigger story was everything but the bluebird. I took the camera to the tree. Here was a subject. While photographing the birch; a Sugar Maple, its neighbor, took my attention. Its leaves, a glorious soft light green, caused m eyes to linger on their fresh beauty. New leaves have once a season splendor. They are not wind or insect tattered, their shape is perfect as they were formed. Then, I put the camera away.DSC_0049_056

Sitting by a small campfire later, my heart and mind were now stilled to be attentive. The soft east wind touched my skin. Two small, white, puffy cumulus clouds drifted eastward. A lone gull called as it flew somewhere south to rest for the night. Birds sang their evening chorus, a cardinal from a high perch to the west, an oriole in the tree above. This is better than a movie I thought.

How much do I miss because I am busy? When I am busy I think, I am in control. Busy means I am getting things “done.” I want to be in control, to accomplish things. I deceive myself. God is in control. God tells us to be still. It sounds like He’s demanding. We do not like to be told what to do. Wait a minute, God really does know what is good for us. He loves us. If God tells us what to do, doing it is the best. It’s called obedience.

This week a verse from the Bible, Proverbs 28:26 has been in my thoughts. It reads, “Whoever trusts in (their) own mind is a fool, but (the one) who walks in wisdom will be delivered. I trust in my own mind all the time! I need to be in control. I have things to do, plans to accomplish. These words have brought me to a stop more than once this week. The wisest man in the world, Solomon, reminds us that it is foolish to trust our own minds.

That brings us to a second verse Psalm 46:10; “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Put these two thoughts together. It is foolish to trust our own mind and to be still is God’s direction for us.  

Let God direct my life? Everything in our culture today say, that’s foolish, ridiculous. Be still? There are thousands of reasons not to. My schedule won’t allow stillness.

Are you willing to take a simple test? Try being still? Sometime within 24 hours, perhaps at evening, stop everything you are doing. Go outside. Get comfortable, then be still. Prepare to stay for more than 5 minutes. Stop thinking about what you will do after you are done being still. Refrain from trusting your own mind.  Be still, watch, listen. Being still even means not talking. Instead, listen to things outside and listen to your heart. Can the eternal, living God speak to us? Yes-always. It is very good. Be still. Be still.