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Being still

Saturday, 16 July 2011
Thunder Moon - Artist unknown to me
There was an absolutely beautiful full moon last night over the water.

At this time of year, this moon is sometimes called the "Thunder Moon" - because of the frequency of thunderstorms. It is also known as "Hay Moon" - which is easy to understand when you are surrounded, as I am, by farms. You also understand the genesis of the phrase, "Make hay while the sun shines". The mowers and balers toil long hours in the hot sun.

Finally, it is known as the "Buck Moon" because this is the time of year when the antlers of young bucks push their way through and begin to make an appearance.

I wonder by what name this moon is known in other countries, other cultures.

One moon. Many names.

I was sitting on my deck, watching this Moon of Many Names, and suddenly, I was startled to realize that an hour had gone by. I have no idea where that time went.

Which is an interesting concept, all in its own. Where does time go? Does it move past us and then circle round again, past the many seasons of the Moon of Many Names and become the future?

I think I was still that whole time. Just sitting, watching the moon. Letting time go past me.  Or, was it ahead of me and I was catching up to it? Did it move slowly and silently or rush  by so fast I didn't hear it?

Who knows? I was alone with my thoughts. Oh, and Theo who also made not a sound nor moved not a muscle. At least, I don't think so.

I was struck by the fact that the moon was there but did not seem to move. So were we both. There. Not moving. Or, at least, that's how it seemed. Not 'wasting time'. Just being in the moment. Being still. Allowing the world to move around us while we paid so much attention to it time seemed to stand still while we weren't moving.

These days, I spend good portions of my day in silence. By which I mean, I do not speak. Well, to another person in the room. My thoughts are always with me and I have great conversations in my head. I sometimes share them with Theo, who looks at me, sometimes quizzically, trying desperately to understand. Other times, he seems to know exactly what I'm saying. Sometimes, before I even open my mouth.

It feels like an enormous privilege - as if I have been invited into God's stillness and silence which I experience as the fullness of God. In those moments I am present to everything. Attentive to it. To love it. To enjoy it and be happy. But, I am to interpret nothing, solve nothing, explain nothing.

I am just letting it - and myself - be.

I am as still as the water on the Bay, reflecting the light of the Moon of Many Names. The gentle breeze blows past me and I feel it calling me to an interior dance, like the marsh grass danced with the breeze before the Thunder/Hay/Buck Moon.  But, I do not move. At least, I am not aware that I did.

Meanwhile, the current continues to move under the stillness of the water on the surface of the Bay. Meanwhile, somewhere out there, a young buck rubs his head against a tree to ease the discomfort of antlers pushing their way out of his skull. Meanwhile, a farmer prepares for bed, muscles sore and aching from bailing hay while the sun shines.

Meanwhile, I sat alone with my thoughts, but I was hardly alone. I found myself in the company of the many teachers I've had over the years.   I heard the voice of my High School English Lit teacher and wondered if we really ought to gather our rosebuds while we may - and what are those rosebuds, anyway?

I heard the voice of my nursing school philosophy professor and wondered, in the stillness of the night, if Thomas Hardy was right when he said that everything that happens is simply a matter of coincidence and chance.

And then, I heard the voice of one of my seminary professors and wondered if Camus was right when he said that human beings have to create out of nothing whatever meaning there is in life.

This morning, I found the words of John S. Mogabgab which I had once, long ago, written on a scrap of paper and tucked it inside my breviary.
"When our words enfold the silence, what we say will continue to speak even after we have stopped."
I understand that, now, better than I did when I wrote them on that scrap of paper because I knew, somehow, that I would need them one day. For a time like this. In a moment like this. After a moon like that.

I suppose I also better understand the words of one of the Desert Fathers which I wrote on the back side of that same scrap of paper. Abba Poemen said, "Teach your mouth to say that which is in your heart." And, conversely, "Preserve in your heart what your mouth teaches."

I also found this quote from Percy Ainsworth tucked away in another part of my breviary:
I'm afraid that too often we leave the deeps of life untouched
not because we remember they are sacred
but because we forget they are there.
Those scraps of paper with those words written on them have been there for years - more years than I care to remember. I can't recall when I wrote them or how long they've been there. It was simply time for me to find them again and bring them 'round into this time. This moment.

Later this afternoon, I will be in the midst of a great, joyful family cacophony known as our grandaughters' birthday party. The delightful sounds of the giggles and laughter of the children will dance on the more serious adult conversations about the debit ceiling and corrupt journalists and unemployment, amidst calls for "Hamburger, Cheeseburger or Hot Dog?"

There will be Slip 'n Slide and Softball and Volleyball and Badminton while some of us pick up conversations right where we left off last year. It will be as if time has circled 'round the Moon of Many Names and found us again.

We have not stood still in that time. Neither has time stood still for us. But some of us have been practicing being still, invited as we have been, into the Stillness of God.

We are all invited into that Stillness.

Some of us accept the invitation.

Some of us don't.

Those of us who do enter into the cacophony of life with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude for both the Noise and the Stillness.

I believe God loves it all.

And, by God, so do I.

Because it is, all of it, sacred.

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