Be Still and Know

Here the story becomes harder to tell, the plot arcane.

This chapter begins around the time I faced a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease almost 14 years ago. How glorious it is that so many years have passed, and I am still here, “in the land of the living”.

I soon became acquainted with numerous MND patients around the world via an online forum; sadly all these friends have long since died. But one that I corresponded with at some length was an American professor of Literature. He happened, one day, to quote a Psalm, and these few words quickly found their place in my journal:

For God alone
My soul in silence waits.

Psalm 62:1

We had a camel in our home once. A plastic camel on wheels with a basket arrangement slung on it’s back into which we would gingerly place “straws”. Sooner or later one straw would finally be too much, the camel’s back would break and the whole catastrophe would spill.

My friend’s psalm was that straw. For a long while, as I wrote in Be Still, I had been drawn to quietness, but like a gnat on the wrong side of the fly screen I could see the goal, but never reach it. Silence called to me, but like the gnat I had never been close enough to the source of light to observe it or know what it actually was.

There were several significant straws in my own camel’s basket: It had long fascinated me that God chose to be invisible (with the odd, notable exception). God could, after all, just walk along High Street and settle all controversy, but that clearly was not the plan. Why, I wondered? It was becoming obvious to me that God chose to be largely silent as well as invisible. Why was that so? And something in my own heart repeatedly called to me through all the noise and joy of our clamorous family life. And then my friend quoted those eight words. Once again, just as it had happened years before in the desert when my Favourite Wife and I were newly engaged, my life was changing course very quickly, very suddenly, and a new revelation had arrived. A new seed had been sown. I knew. Deep down, I knew.

How can I describe what I knew? I was about fifty years old, and I knew at last who I was. I knew why quietness had been attracting my attention for years. I knew that the truth is not necessarily found in many words, not in debate and argument, not just in prepared speeches, and not only in great books – much though I enjoy them all. I knew that truth is waiting for those who attend to the quietness within. I knew that it was OK to doubt after all. I knew that I was still alive, and that was enough. I knew that I didn’t actually need to know. And I knew that everything in my life, hard though it might be, was good.

I can’t know how that last paragraph sounds to you, and I worry that it may seem supercilious or trite. I truly hope it doesn’t. Describing my early years of Being was simple: it was so good, so much fun, and so easy to write. But the words that describe the knowing that comes with inner stillness are elusive.

Be. Be Still. Be Still and Know.

There is one more chapter to write.


4 thoughts on “Be Still and Know

  1. William Schuster

    Not so elusive, just on the other side of quiet, sometimes waiting and wanting to be pondered.

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