I went on retreat a couple of days ago, to a beautiful place with some incredible men. As we began our time in silence I noticed that I was having some trouble settling in to the silence and coming to any sort of stillness within. And as I thought more about it, I realized that the very same thing had happened the last couple of times I had taken a day away to be still and listen to God. I felt like I was a big ball of yarn that was filled with snarls and knots and loops and tangles. And the more I tried to undo the mess, the more messy it seemed to become; until the day had passed and the time was over and I was heading for home, no better, it seemed, than when I had arrived. Notice that the word undo contains a very familiar root...do. Somehow I was trying to do silence and stillness, just like I tend to do everything else. And it left me frustrated, and a little tense.
So, I decided, instead of struggling with the big ball of yarn within me, to go for a walk. And as I walked I began to notice some things. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny and bright, lots of blue sky and green leaves, perfect temperature, with just the right amount of breeze blowing. I began to watch the trees dance with the wind; it felt like something right out of the Chronicles of Narnia. It was an absolutely beautiful dance, so captivating to watch. The trees didn't have to try, they just were. They allowed the wind to animate them and bring them to life; to take the lead in this mysterious dance, if you will. I walked a little further and saw a daisy growing in an opening alongside the path in front of me. It was standing straight and tall and lovely, lifting its arms to the life-giving sun. And I again "thought" this flower is not trying (or toiling and spinning in the words of Matthew), but simply is. It is being itself; just what it was made to be, and this was the natural result. I walked over to a chair and sat and watched the afternoon sun reflect on the water. It was like ten million little points of light; shimmering and glittering and shining from the rays of the sun. And again I "thought," it is not trying to do this. But of course by now I had realized I wasn't "thinking" at all, but God was speaking, and the message was the same over and over again. Side Note: It takes me a while to catch on sometimes, so God knows that with me He often has to repeat Himself before I recognize His voice...End of Side Note.
And finally, as I sat, watching and listening, I saw His final messenger...a hawk. It was circling above, riding the currents of the wind. I'll bet I watched him for ten minutes before he disappeared, and during that entire time I can't remember him flapping his wings once. He simply rode the winds and went wherever they took him...beautiful, peaceful, effortless. And I began to long, and to pray, for the same to be true of me; that I might be able to simply be...to simply be all that God created me to be, and to be me as naturally and as effortlessly as the leaves, or the flower, or the reflections on water, or the hawk riding the winds of its Creator. Which is exactly what the Spirit of God is to begin with; the wind of God, His very breath (in fact spirit , wind, and breath are all the same word; both in Greek and in Hebrew) . Maybe it is all the trying that keeps getting in my way. What if I just decided to be? And as I thought about that very thing, suddenly I realized the knots and the tangles and the snarls were gone, and I was all still within. Thanks be to God!