My Dear One,
Try something with me for a moment: Be still.
Be as absolutely, “perfectly” still as you can possibly be.
Did you move?
Of course you did. There’s no way you can’t move. Even if you were able to keep from batting an eyelid, you moved. And not just a little. You moved A LOT.
You are sitting there, as still as you can, on the surface of the planet Earth. You are always moving as fast as the Earth is spinning. And unless you are sitting at or near the North or South Pole, that means you are traveling upwards of 1,000 miles per hour. And not only that, but the Earth is orbiting the Sun at an astounding 67,000 miles per hour. You’re not just moving, you’re flying.
You are not still. You only think you are. That may be your perception. But you are moving incredibly, incredibly fast.
It’s all relative, isn’t it? When we are moving as fast as everything around us is moving, we feel like we aren’t going anywhere. This is true of both our bodies and our spirits. My kids both used to ask me why, as we are traveling down the road at 70mph, if they toss a ball up in the air it doesn’t fly to the back of the vehicle. I tried to explain how velocity and wind resistance and Einstein’s theory of relativity explain it all. I probably wasn’t explaining it very well. They still questioned. Something about it didn’t add up. Many things never do.
God is in the car
The same applies to all our “chasing after” God. We cannot chase God. That is an impossible metaphor. God cannot be chased because God moves with us. What does it mean to chase after a God who never leaves our side? No matter how fast or slow we perceive ourselves to be zipping through life, God doesn’t budge relative to where we are. Toss God up in the air all you want. God’s coming right back into your hand.
I know this to be true but still too often I think about it all wrong. I imagine that God is to be sought after, acting as if the spiritual journey is some kind of quest to go find God “out there somewhere.” God is never something to be searched for. God is only something to be recognized as already present.
A spiritual director friend of mine, Anne Province, shared this quote from Laurence Freeman with a group of us yesterday:
“God is not in the present moment. God IS the present moment.”
It struck me how profound that shift in thinking can be for us all. And of course it is right. God is not contained in time. God is too expansive to be contained by something so feeble as space/time. God is not one thing among many to be found in this moment, rather this moment exists because God exists. Without God, there is no moment. God is the one “in whom we live and move and have our being.”
If we go “in search of God” we will likely never find God. Because if we insist God is “out there” then we will never be able to accept that God is already right here. God doesn’t go flying to the back windshield. God stays with us.
God is I AM.
Revealed not in but as.
There is no “out there” when it comes to God. Only here.
It is a cosmic, divine game of tag. God’s always “it.” You’re always tagged. There is no chase, only a pursuit.
Prayer is movement
Prayer is allowing ourselves to admit we have been caught.
There are as many ways to pray as there are ways to imagine praying. Prayer is anything that opens us up to a realization of the presence of God. Not just in the moment, but as the moment itself.
There is one particular form that many, many people, myself included, turn to in order to allow ourselves to be caught up in God: contemplative prayer. Even in contemplative prayer there are many forms: centering prayer, Examen, Lectio, the Jesus Prayer, meditation, breath prayer, etc. But all look like sitting still and focusing on something in particular or perhaps nothing at all, usually for anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes at a time.
Is this a waste of time?
From an outsider’s perspective, it might seem so. “It looks like nothing is happening.” “Why sit still when you could be doing something productive?” “You are wasting your life just sitting there.”
Noting could be further from the truth. Sometimes there is much movement going on.
As the mystical poet Willie Nelson puts it in his song, Still Is Still Moving To Me:
And it’s hard to explain how I feel
It won’t go in words but I know that it’s real
I can be moving or I can be still
But still is still moving to me
Still is still moving to me
I could keep myself busy all day long and not accomplish a thing. Sometimes we keep our bodies moving so our mind doesn’t have to. Sit still and you will find your mind jumps all over the place. It’s so disquieting, that many people choose not to do it. But we should. The world needs more people who are brave enough to slow down, to quit searching for things “out there;” be they a sense of purpose, accomplishment, meaning or God. “Be still and know that I am God,” says Psalm 46.
I’m sending this WayPost out on Sunday, the ascribed “day of rest.” My guess is you are busy. But you’ve taken a few minutes to read this. Good. Now take a few more.
Be still. And know. That I Am. - God
And let us see if what seems stuck in life doesn’t begin to move, if what seem stationary doesn’t begin to fly, not to the back of the window, but right here, with us.
following The Way,
A guide to centering prayer:
Richard Rohr on Contemplative Prayer:
Listen to Willie sing it: