I was overtaken by the glorious weight of pause, and I took a moment to check the time.
I was only twelve minutes into my walk, yet I felt like I had wandered into another realm. And all that had changed was me. My body, at first rushing along the path, had taken my soul to a place of stillness, and then, because it was such a good place, all of me took a deep breath and paused right there.
I tried to take in the gloriousness of the sky; even in a valley, my little valley within Big Valley, the sky filled my vision and took my breath away!
I heard the best white noise ever, birdsong.
Relentlessly happy robins called, “cheer cheer-up,”
High above, a whistling mist of goldfinches danced from tree to tree, so carefree.
I felt carefree too; I was so still inside, I wasn’t even humming...
...which is how I came to see this muskrat before it saw me.
Sleek and brown, the secretive creature had ventured to the bank to gather grass for some nest business.
I stood motionless as it slipped into the water, gliding along the surface; then it disappeared in the murky depths with only a bubble trail to show the way home.
Small blooming beauties dotted the banks, yes, every one of them a “weed,” and every one so lovely. I wondered if my eyes were the only ones that would ever see that violet smiling shyly beside a rock ledge. (Maybe not, as it seems "someone" else had already been nibbling the leaves!)
I stood absorbing the extravagance of creation all around me, and I remembered a phrase from some Scripture verses we’ve been memorizing:
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45)
But this time I heard differently. Maybe it's not just about rain falling or sun shining;
it’s about the indiscriminate distribution of God’s reckless grace to every one:
His offer is for the evil and the good, for the righteous and the unrighteous.
And that’s a big relief to me, because some days I’m not sure which category I’m in.
I don’t think I’m evil, but I’m not so good either. Unrighteous? Well, that’s not my goal, but righteous…sounds a little presumptive.
All of which makes this verse more of a treasure than I had previously considered, because,
either way, He is pouring it all over me - sunshine and rain and the grace of His Presence.
I don’t have to know exactly who I am to receive what He lavishly gives.
I don’t have to know exactly who I am to stand soul deep in wonder.
I don’t have to know exactly who I am to experience the beauty, ordinary and extraordinary, that nods its head at me every single day.
But what I do need to do, regularly, is to be still and (begin to) know who He is,
this One who is the Source of all of this- sun and rain, muskrats,beauty weeds,birdsong, and so much more.
So it seems God is saying, “Relax already. Slack off a bit.” (Hmmm; have you ever heard this advice?! Instead of “try harder, do more,” just “slack off a little. Let go.”)
I think God is saying to release whatever it is that I am grasping so tightly that it has me in its grip.
You know, Let. it. go. (Oh dear. “Let it go” isn’t just Disney, it’s biblical. This could be a problem.)
Not like I know facts about plants and planets,
or the way I "know" information about some famous person, such as their most recent tweet or their least favorite food. For example, I know that George H.W. Bush famously quipped, “I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli!” but that doesn't mean I know George H.W. Bush.
Instead, God wants me to know Him by experience, the way I know my friend is going to snort coffee through her nose when I tell her where I found my something-or-other that has been missing for weeks.
He wants me to know that He is God by experiencing life with Him, the way I learned to know, by ear, that my son was dragging a chair across the kitchen to access the chips in the high cupboard.
That’s how God wants me (and you) to know Him.
By relationship. By experience.
Of course, this means reading Scripture
and listening for His voice,
but I do think He might get tired of us doing only that.
What would it be like to sit with Him in the woodland quiet of a tree stand,
walk with Him along an ordinary creek,
or wander together through a city park?
Riding the bus with God might be a game changer. He would probably love to have lunch together.
What would change if I were to consider His unseen Presence by my side as I grieve or bake bread or change the sheets again or embrace a hurting child?
Sometimes my body may be moving, busy, doing what I need to do, and I might still be utterly quiet on the inside.
But it will need to be intentional.
It seems stillness doesn’t just happen.
We have to choose it.
The wonder of the knowing is its own reward.
Be still and know that I am God.