This past spring, much of our world came to a halt. Concerts and plays and sporting events were called off. Restaurants and stores closed their doors. Traffic dropped to nearly half its usual levels. Thousands of airline flights were canceled. In the face of a new virus, we were asked to help control its spread by limiting our movement in this world, by being still.
“Stillness” is our Soul Matters theme for the month of December. After our experience of the spring and while being asked to return to many limitations this fall and winter while the virus surges through our communities, where can we find spiritual value in the concept of stillness?
One popular scripture verse (heavily marketed on mass-produced wall art, jewelry, and journals) comes from Psalm 46. “Be still and know that I am God.” It sounds so simple and sweet, a gentle reminder of the value of regular time for quiet meditation and reflection. But as with many simple religious platitudes, this verse has been taken out of its powerful context and reduced to a marketable idea. Psalm 46 is not a simple, easy place in the Hebrew scriptures. It is a psalm about war and upheaval. “Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall… God breaks the bow, shatters the spear, burns the shields with fire…” This is not a song about the need for personal inner peace, a cup of tea, and a new meditation routine. It is about a nation of people fighting for survival and hearing a message of the Spirit: “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” This is a call for a group to remember its collective priorities. Be still. Know what is most important. Raise up what is most worthy of praise.
Can we take that ancient call with us into these winter months when we are being asked to once again limit our movements to limit the spread of disease? Despite our understandable restlessness, I invite this congregation to consider the next few weeks as an invitation to purposeful stillness. Look around. Acknowledge the upheaval in our world and in our lives. Respond to it by reprioritizing our actions. Respond to it by turning our hearts to what matters most.
–Rev. Jennifer Gracen
Interim MinisterTree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Note: Friday is my sabbath. I will not check email on that day.
If you want to explore more about Stillness, contact the office to get a digital copy of our Soul Matters packet. firstname.lastname@example.org