Sunday, 6 July 2008

Surrendering to stillness

On Friday afternoon, while driving home from work, I noticed that the River Tay was quite calm – so I stopped to take some photos.

The river wasn't absolutely still, but it struck me that the gentle movement made it seem even more beautiful and peaceful. The effect of the reflections on the river’s surface was almost like some of the Impressionist paintings (the photos don’t really do this justice).

I guess that there would've been strong currents beneath the surface, but the overall feeling was one of tranquillity. After taking some photos I simply stood and watched for a while. I felt completely relaxed and ‘in tune’.

That feeling of tranquillity has kept coming back to me, and it feels like God is speaking through it.

Over the course of the last week, I’ve been grappling with Mark’s account of the Transfiguration, and have found myself returning to the voice from the cloud:

“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Listening is easy – hearing and heeding are harder. How do I get from listening in my head to obeying in my heart?

Well, in some way it seems to be about hearing the gentle whisper, rather than the roaring wind. It’s about combining being still and being restless. Being still to hear, and restless to obey. The tranquillity of knowing God’s presence and hearing his voice, and the restlessness of desiring and seeking change.

As ever, Heschel seems to capture it more comprehensively and eloquently:


“We ring the hollow bell of selfishness rather than absorb the stillness that surrounds the world, hovering over all the restlessness and fear of life – the secret stillness that precedes our birth and succeeds our death. Futile self-indulgence brings us out of tune with the gentle song of nature’s waiting, of mankind’s striving for salvation.”

5 comments:

Fiona said...

'It’s about combining being still and being restless. Being still to hear, and restless to obey. The tranquillity of knowing God’s presence and hearing his voice, and the restlessness of desiring and seeking change'

What a beautiful description, Endless. That really spoke to me today, thank you.

nonprofitprophet said...

gorgeous countryside there. Tranquility. ER, I read a quote this weekend that I will share with you when I return home. It reminded me of you and your blog title.
There is a book titled "A Gentle Thunder" by American pastor and author Max Lucado. It goes along with you thoughts here. ~npp

nonprofitprophet said...

ER - here is the quote I promised you.
"It is no east task to walk this earth and find peace. Inside of us, it would seem, something is at odds with the very rhythm of things and we are forever restless, dissatisfied, frustrated, and aching. We are so overcharged with desire that it is hard to come to simple rest. Desire is always stronger than satisfaction." Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing.
~npp

His Girl Friday said...

Hi ER,
great photos and great post!


NPP,
I like the quote, thanks

KJ said...

Thanks ER. Your words, and Heschels, and profound. god has used you both to speak to me today. Thank you.