Be Still and Know (Excerpt)
Our lives are now larger and more complex than they used to be. To hold steady, have clarity and the true power of a life well-lived, we need a large and deep substructure, one able to hold up the superstructure. This is not only urgent; it is essential to our wellbeing. For not only are we busy, we are buried by a tsunami of information, interests and invitations. There is always something more to know, do, explore, get wise about. We have completely opened all the windows of our souls to be inundated and overwhelmed. “Underwhelmed” is the new word we use when all our triggers have been shot and we no longer have the capacity to be surprised, delighted, educated.
We are soul-hungry, wearied and desperate. Even the digital natives are finding that virtual soil is poor soil, without real nourishment. Strong, fierce winds beat upon all who dare bare their souls there as words and images spread like wildfire, often beyond one’s original intention. The cries for acceptance and purpose reverberate in virtual space and the answers are varied and confusing, lacking the personal touch we need.
Thus overloaded, the gift of the present moment is often the one we leave unwrapped as we are preoccupied with the next moment or the ones that are past.
Why are we so distracted from attending to the present moment we have, when it is the precise point of our agency and power? It’s important to learn to be fully present to the moment. The ability to be fully present comes as we grow the muscle to resist the tyranny of the urgent. It deepens as we experience the ever-present God and His love transforms all our moments—mundane or ecstatic. God touches the present moment and fills it with value, delight and promise. He stabilises us to embrace that our past flows into the present and our future flows forth from it.
But the present moment is like a fleeting shadow when we are weighed down by unresolved issues and worries. We may plug in choice music to tune out other noises, hole up in a cave, or see a guru, but these are not enough to create and sustain our need to be present. We need to find a way that is more practical for our busy city lives which will grow a resilient space within us that is more aware of the present moment.
Clearly the value of silence is obvious. We have to find a way to understand, approach and relate with our need for silence such that it fosters in us a way to be more present to the moment that we are living.
This is even more true for the spiritual life. Indeed, all the faith traditions have a mystical aspect where silence is a necessary part of the experience.
Christianity at its core is not about a religious agenda where institutional power, dogma and rites prevail. Rather, the heart of the Good News found in Jesus Christ is meant for all people, as the angels announced during the birth of Jesus: “goodwill to all men”. His birth, life, death and resurrection address the deep questions and issues of our human existence and offer us a way to live that fits us as both material and spiritual beings. This way of life requires us to be at home with silence.
I believe then that this book can serve those who may not call themselves ‘Christians’, but all who are spiritually seeking.
Come, let’s head for terra incognita.
Silence is waiting.
Excerpt from Be Still and Know: Treasures from Silence to Transform Your Life by Jenni Ho-Huan. Copyright © 2019. Used with author’s permission.