Column: To still be fully human, be still

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.
Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Wow, wonder what that cool song is?

The music was playing in the background as the show “Criminal Minds” was winding up.

Naturally, my iPhone was nowhere nearby, so I couldn’t “Shazam it.” (Shazam is an incredible music app. If you’re curious about it, ask your children or grandchildren to explain!) However, I zipped to the Internet Movie Data Base app on my iPad, found the song and the artist, and then bought it on iTunes.

The tune, “Be Still,” is sung by Isaac Slade of The Fray. It was written for Slade’s little brother when he couldn’t sleep and called at four in the morning. It’s a very soothing, simple lullaby.

Although not specifically Christian, the lyrics sound like something God might sing to each of us. In a nutshell, the song reassures anyone who is caught in fear, shame, darkness, terror and shadow, that they not alone. If they can simply “be still,” then they will “know that I am with you . . . know that I am here . . . know I am.”

I wish that I’d heard the song during Lent. I would have given listening to it as a penance! In the many confessions that I heard, a terribly common sin is impatience. We’re always busy rushing from one commitment to another, leaving no time to “be still.” Eventually, we become depleted — physically, emotionally and spiritually — and not only lose patience, but perspective. I suspect that’s one of the reasons for the Third Commandment. When we keep holy the Lord’s Day, when we respect the Sabbath by “being still” for a change, God manages to get a word in edgewise. God helps to re-channel our priorities, and lets us regroup, recharge and be refreshed.

But maybe we’re hesitant to be still, seeing it as a waste of valuable time. Listen to this cautionary tale from Theophane the Monk:

A woman went to a monastery for her first weekend retreat in many years. When she arrived at the guesthouse, a monk surprised her with a brusque question: “Why not?”

“Although he had never seen me before,” the woman said, “I knew he had me pegged. I brought up excuses for my absence from making a retreat: ‘It was a long trip . . . I’m tired . . . the kids . . . my stressful job . . . not enough time.’”

The retreat master took a long sword off the wall and gave it to the woman, saying, “Here, with this sword, you can cut through any barriers you have.”

The woman took the sword and slipped away. In her room, alone, she sat and looked at the sword. While she knew what the monk had said was true, the next day she returned the sword, muttering, “How can I live without my excuses?” (Adapted from “Excuses” in “More Sower’s Seeds,” by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR.)

When was the last time you truly kept the Sabbath? (At this point, feel free to begin your litany of excuses.) Now take that monk’s sword and cut through any objections to being still and spending time with God.

Treat yourself this Sunday to some real Sabbath time. Start small. After church, set aside a half-hour for quiet. Take a timeout from the computer, smartphone and TV. Sit with the Scriptures, a spiritual book, a journal or a favorite prayer for half the time. Use the other 15 minutes to leisurely peruse the newspaper, read a novel, take a walk or pursue a hobby. Gradually increase your Sabbath time.

Give yourself permission to quiet down and hear God’s lullaby in your heart: “Be still and know that I’m with you/And I will say your name.”

Leave a Reply