Sometimes the inside of my head is a deep, dark, stressful place to be. Moments of quiet bring planning, worry, excessive organization and an attempt to control life. Distractions become a blessing when they disrupt my frantic, spiraling negativity.
I cherish the moments when I seek and then allow myself to enjoy stillness.
I took a short 2-day trip last weekend with my husband and good friends. We stayed in small cabin along the Niobrara River in northern Nebraska and spent an entire day floating peacefully down the river. I wrote about a similar trip nearly 2 years ago – No Kids Allowed! A few different people this year, but the same concept: time to escape and step away from “grown-up” responsibility!
If you’ve never visited the Niobara – or perhaps have this image that Nebraska is only flat, boring farmland – I urge you to seek out these hidden parts of the state. It is a reminder that within the seemingly ordinary, there is extraordinary! On Sunday evening I spent hours staring at the river; marveling at the beauty in the sunset, the contrast of the bright green trees against the quiet blue sky, and the magic in the flow of a river. My mind was not frantic! In that stillness, I was able to peacefully ponder the presence of God in my life and in the world. I declared to myself what I believe – God, creator, saw the pain and brokenness in His creation and chose to be present in the world in human form, showing us how to live through sacrificial love, and continues to be present through and in this creation as Spirit. In the stillness, I felt a part of this creation and my soul could simply listen!
A good friend of mine received a kayak for mother’s day. I was instantly envious – I must have one! I have never kayaked before – no clue if I would be any good at it, or even enjoy it. I assumed I wanted it for exercise and the opportunity to be outdoors. However, I quickly learned that it was the peaceful quiet of an open, still lake which I yearned for much more than the physical act of kayaking.
It’s funny – my friend and I both now own kayaks, and we live within 5 miles of each other. Yet we are both so desperate for inner quiet that we’ve never actually used our kayaks together!
After we got my kayak, I thought it would be fun if my almost 8-year-old had his own kayak so we could go together. (As my kids get older, I can do things that I actually enjoy while still spending quality time with them!) So we convinced him that he wanted a kayak for his July birthday. To allow for more summer-time use of said kayak, we bought it this week. We told him that all good boats must have a name, so he promptly named it “Keith.”
We got my son in the water with Keith the kayak. He was a natural! He instantly grasped how to steer, turn and maintain balance. We stood on the shore watching patiently. After 30 minutes, we had to drag him reluctantly back to the edge of the water. He’s been begging to use his kayak again ever since!
I assumed he would enjoy it for the physical activity. But my son surprised me. Similar to my first time in a kayak, he paddled away, balanced his paddle in the middle of the kayak and just sat there, soaking in the stillness and calm of the lake around him. My son and I are very alike – he is a worrier and over-thinks everything. Yet I did not anticipate how much he – even at 8 years old – might be desperately seeking stillness.
Our world is an insane place – and the stress is often our own making. In stillness, let worries fade away and remember God is in control.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”