Finding Meaning in Stillness

River

Be still.

Those words play softly in the background of so many memories.

My grandfather passed away just after I turned four. What I remember most clearly is the time we spent fishing. I was too young then to appreciate the quiet he treasured.

Be still,” he’d say, and I would follow the order as though it was handed down from heaven above.

A little older, I would sit in the woods with my father on freezing cold mornings as we waited for a squirrel to emerge.

Be still,” he’d say, as I tried not to fidget or talk. Sometimes I resented the lesson but I did my best to honor it.

When I was old enough, I’d go to the woods with friends. We’d slip along silently over hardwood ridges and down through cypress bottoms.

Be still,” we’d say whenever there was something up ahead. The two words now conveyed anticipation, focus and excitement.

Years later, my son was born with a life-threatening infection. Only a few hours old, he was flown to Shands Hospital. As we waited for news, my mother shared one of her favorite Bible verses.

Be still,” she quoted from Psalm 46:10, “and know that I am God.” The words gave me a measure of comfort as our new baby struggled for life, and as he recovered.

Nowadays, it seems my life is ruled by an inbox and a calendar, by deadlines and bills, and by expectations met or missed. It’s all too easy for me to be consumed by worry, dread and fear.

Be still,” I tell myself, and my mind returns to a fishing cork on calm, black water. Or to a cold morning with my back against an ancient oak tree. Or to the laughter of my children, all healthy and nearly grown.

Now, I’ve come to treasure those precious moments, in the woods or on the water, when I can release my mind and restore my soul.

Be still,” a soft voice says, and I feel my joy and strength return.

Be still,” I hear as my thoughts are calmed and my spirit is refilled.

Be still,” I now say to others – not as words of advice, or admonition or even comfort – but simply as a gift worth sharing.

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