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.


Music for your waiting

advent wreath with votivesIt’s hard to believe Christmas is only a month away.  The waiting can be filled with much shopping, parties, busyness, noise, rushing around … not bad things, but the waiting can also be filled with quiet expectation.

Time alone.


So one can think, ponder and imagine the scene of the coming Messiah, born as a helpless babe in the cold and dead of night.

This period of waiting, known in the Roman Catholic Church as Advent, is one of the most beautiful seasons of the church year. The decor in individual churches is simplified, featuring a single large wreath with four candles (three purple, one pink) waiting to be lit.

advent liturgyThe priest wears the purple vestment, signifying a time of preparation of the heart, repenting of past sins, and turning back again towards God.

Scripture readings from the prophets, especially Isaiah, proclaim in compelling prose the coming of the Savior of the World. The Gospel of St. Luke introduces us to the most influential woman in the world, disguised as a humble, poor young girl whose brilliance and wisdom was revealed in saying “yes” to God.

Services feature meditative songs and chants sung acapella rather than with full organ accompaniment.

Music for your waiting

insert createspace.inddOf all the music that I recorded, my favorite by far was my Advent/Christmas collection known as Wait with Me: Advent of the Promised Son. Drawing upon the rich scripture tradition of Advent, these songs proclaim the biblical truths from Isaiah and St. Luke. The collection begins with songs of expectation and build to the birth of our Lord on Christmas Day. Unlike my other CDs, this one features earthier arrangements: acoustic guitar, hand percussion instruments, plentiful harmonies. Listen to samples here:

I can send you a copy of the CD, Wait with Me so that you can have it to prepare your heart in waiting for Jesus.

Click here to place your order.

Click to Tweet & Share: Beautiful Advent/Christmas Music for your waiting by Susan Bailey http://wp.me/p2D9hg-xB

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