Being still helps you find perspective

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I told Anthony to take water to our dog in the front yard. Our pug, Penney, was wagging her tail faster than a pinwheel turning. Anthony carefully carried the bowl of water through the living room heading out the front door. As he walked, the water sloshed from side to side. The more Anthony bounced and quickened his step, the more the liquid swished. I stood watching Anthony as he walked, expecting to see water overflowing making a nasty path. But he slowed and walked with care. Consequently, the water stayed still and inside the bowl. Life is like that, I surmised as I contemplated the situation.

Anthony made it out the door without an accident. Rather than jolting and overflowing, the water remained steady. If Anthony had shaken the bowl, the water would have spilled. In comparison, it's more likely that people experience mishaps when they rush and are worried or preoccupied. But when one remains calm, results are more pleasing because he's more in control of the outcome.

Nowadays, people rush about. They have every convenience available to give them more leisure time. Yet one only adds more to his agenda to fill the extra time he's created. He still has no space in which to just relax, contemplate or pray. Some religions and spiritualities stop whatever they're doing to pray at regular intervals during the day. The practice provides them with a chance to meet with their God and stop and think. Others pause or plan a time to slow down, be still and meditate. Whether it's to pray or perform yoga, they enter into a state of calmness. The time one would seemingly lose is more than compensated for by his ability to accomplish more with less exertion than if he kept running in circles.

If you've listened to children when they're on a sugar high, being around them causes you to absorb their nervousness. It's difficult to remain unruffled. You have to slow their conversation to even understand what they're saying. When they become composed you can comprehend every word because they've curbed their excitement. They can then decipher the value of what they've just experienced and feel the ramifications of what just happened.

When sports teams prepare for a game, they often congregate for a moment of prayer or silence. It provides a time to gain perspective. The time of quiet, even a short one, brings power and strength. When runners begin a race, you often hear coaches telling their participants to pace themselves -- to save energy (excitement) for the home stretch.

We've all heard of "the calm before the storm." It's like the wind knows it must be hushed awhile to gain energy before it can exert its fury. Then the storm gathers all its strength for the attack. That's an act of nature everyone can learn from and apply to his life. If one conserves his energy (excitement) he can access it when he needs it more.

Jesus prayed regularly, during his ministry on Earth. He evidently felt he must have the power of his Father to do what he needed to do. Even Jesus felt he was incapable of performing without time to be still and connect with his higher power. Although he is part of the Trinity, he consulted with God and sought his strength. God was his rock.

Scripture speaks of the value of stillness and quiet. "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10) and "Wait on the Lord and he will strengthen your heart." (Psalms 27:14) As Anthony walked smoothly keeping the water in the bowl I realized an important lesson. When you remain calm, you're more likely to keep your perspective and prevent what's undesirable from spilling over into your life.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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