Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Learning to be still

I've noticed, a lot of times non-religious bands speak truth better than religious bands. Like the Eagles, for instance -- one of the best bands ever. They did a song back in the '90s called "Learn To Be Still." The lyrics are great. Here are some of them:

It's just another day in paradise
As you stumble to your bed
You'd give anything to silence
Those voices ringing in your head

You thought you could find happiness
Just over that green hill
You thought you would be satisfied
But you never will-
Learn to be still

We are like sheep without a shepherd
We don't know how to be alone
So we wander 'round this desert
And wind up following the wrong gods home
But the flock cries out for another
And they keep answering that bell
And one more starry-eyed messiah
Meets a violent farewell-
Learn to be still

William Wilberforce said, "This perpetual hurry of business and company ruins me in soul if not in body." Wonder what he would say if he were around today!! I think it's funny that when people could be alone and quiet -- like while driving, or walking down the street -- they choose to talk on their cell phone or listen to their iPod. Hey, what am I talking about...I do that!

So how can I learn to be still? I think the first step is to realize what's at stake...what I'm in danger of losing. Henri Nouwen said, "You have to listen to the voice who calls you the beloved, because otherwise you will run around begging for affirmation, for praise, for success. And then you're not free." Constant noise and busyness are really symptoms of insecurity, and the more I feed it the more insecure I will be. Another step is just the common-sense elimination of distractions. I don't have to listen to talk radio every time I get in the car. I don't have to answer the phone every time it rings. I don't have to watch a TV show live and suffer through all those mindless commercials; I can DVR it and watch it later. I don't have to meet with everyone who asks for an appointment. I have to draw the line. I have to listen to God "who calls me the beloved." I have to...learn to be still.

I love this picture of the ruins of Windsor Mansion near Port Gibson, Mississippi. My wife and I visited the place some years ago. It's so quiet and still. The mansion was built in 1859, completed in 1861, and the owner -- a man named Smith Daniell -- only lived in the house for a few weeks before he died at the age of 34. The stillness of the ruins is a vivid reminder of how short-lived we are, and how important it is to learn to be still, before it's too late.

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