Walking in Stillness

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          I started the morning with a slow meditative walk around our property and down to the Pearl River at sunrise. The smells were rich and musky. The water flowed gently. The fish, alligators, nutria, and otters were breaking the river’s smooth surface in search of breakfast. The mist moved across the water and toward me, nudged by a tiny breeze.
          As the light topped the trees it fell on a fragile/strong spider web. Then another web
appeared in the shifting light. Soon I was observing ten webs of varying designs as the breeze blew the morning mist through each one. The webs would shimmy and shift with the breeze, completely vulnerable to the power of the winds and moisture, and yet they retained their essential nature. Each unique spider web design was fragile and strong at the same time.
          I am fragile/strong, like those webs. So are you. The winds and the mists of this life blow across us, and we somehow withstand whatever comes because we are made of fragile/strong stuff. Our essential nature is unchanged by whatever life throws at us.
          Experiencing two kidney transplants and a breast cancer with my wife, and walking
beside thousands of hurting people as a counselor and spiritual director, has taught me this: there is a wholeness beneath our brokenness. Wholeness is our essential nature. Creator made us fragile/strong, and whole beneath our brokenness, so that we can endure and even thrive toward abundant living no matter what comes.
          But we do not remember our True Home, the wholeness of our fragile/strong nature,
unless we use spiritual practices like walking in stillness to awaken us. May we dedicate our lives to walking in stillness, and sharing such practices in contemplative communities. May we experience our fragile/strong essential nature and find our way Home again this day. Amen.
Practice: Walking meditation begins with standing in place, centering ourselves in our inner being, and becoming aware of our balance, stance, and posture. Then we slowly begin to take steps and feel the footfall: the striking of heel/sole of the foot/toes on the floor and the raising of our heel/sole/toes from the floor. As we walk we become aware of our breath, grateful for the gift of the breath of life, and we stay conscious of our breathing in and out as best we can. Then we breathe in and out of our inner wholeness, the place where we are fragile/strong, our essential nature and our True Home. This is the home of the divine too, so we breathe in and out of the divine.
          A group of us practiced in this way last night in the sanctuary of the Rayne United Methodist Church. We walked in silence, stepping toward inner stillness. This is what it is like to be part of a School for Contemplative Living: we are always learning by practicing. Tomorrow another group of us will walk with residents and staff of Project Lazarus, our local residential AIDS treatment facility. Where will you practice walking in stillness?
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About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through Amazon.com; and of a blog on Wordpress.com, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (www.thescl.net), adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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2 Responses to Walking in Stillness

  1. alisha2709 says:

    I just got in from walking the labyrinth in stillness with 20 other 12 step fellows On the property of St. Mary of the Pines. I thought of you and the SCL community and felt grateful that this kind of serenity is not foreign to me through your example. May I stop and surrender to this silence regularly.

  2. encthiele@comcast.net says:

    There is plenty of stillness at our house filled with a sense of each other’s presence and often of the Presence of God. Thanks for the reminder not to take that for granted or to become too busy and noisy.

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