Learning about stillness


My latest column for the Catholic Free Press (which I will post on Tuesday) is about what I have been learning during this Lent about silence and stillness. Did you know there is a physical component to stillness within? I didn’t but I am learning.

I find it very hard to remain still, not only with my mind racing, but my body fidgeting. Honestly, I can’t sit still. Either I’m squirming in my chair trying to get comfortable (I have a chronic achy back, not serious, more of a nuisance) or scratching my head or fiddling with my hair or going after my phone.

A couple of weeks ago at Mass God gave me a gift of grace where I was able to experience true stillness. Not only was my mind still, focused solely on the altar and the priest, but my body was actually still. No fidgeting. No fixing my hair. Just totally still.

Today at mass it went further. I found myself no longer conscious of my body; thus I felt no pain in my back.

As a choir member, I have to stand for long periods of time and that can be rather painful. Often I will sit whenever I can, even if everyone else is standing. Today I made a conscious decision to remain standing because I was experiencing a sense of stillness. It focused my attention on God and away from my body and thus, I was able to ignore any back pain.

It gave me just a tiny clue as to how people in chronic pain who have a deep faith are able to cope. They are never free from pain but somehow, directing the focus to God perhaps helps to decrease the pain, making it more manageable. I’ve seen it with my friend Jackie who is often in pain.

Now granted, it is a monumental effort at times to reach that stillness (I often cannot overcome emotional pain). But the point of the matter is that there is something to stillness of the spirit spreading to the body.

Anthony Tong Lee Stillness, Flickr Creative Commons
Anthony Tong Lee Stillness, Flickr Creative Commons

Perhaps this is what Jesus means when he says his yoke is easy and his burden light. Even in the most horrendous of situations.


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