Rituals have long been habits of comfort and peace, and one of my most sacred is actually the prayers during my church service. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer was first penned in 1549 around the time of William Shakespeare, so the language is quite beautiful in its own right. Editing throughout the years has kept the elegance while adding a deep spiritual perspective. The prayers are also translated into the native Lakota and Cherokee languages, along with Vietnamese and Spanish.
Recently during this beloved time of prayers at the service, I struggled with the peacefulness that usually accompanies this meditative ritual. In the row ahead of us a young child was fidgeting – and I don’t mean being restless. We’re talking climbing over her parents, jumping off the pew and pulling books out of the shelving. Since it was less than a foot away from my bowed head, I found it very difficult to concentrate and find my “Zen.”
My brain’s reaction was very interesting – I immediately went into a self-righteous and judgmental mindset. The little girl appeared to be around four years old so I understand the difficulty of her remaining quiet. Yet the parents did not send her to the children’s service, which is specifically designed so that young minds and bodies stay engaged – nor did they attempt to curb her activity. I found myself becoming angry at their lack of concern and attention, which of course defeats the entire purpose of meditative prayer.
My judgmental brain declared that these parents should do more to teach their child to be “still” in this particular setting. Long after the service was over, I continued to be annoyed – and then it happened again the following week! To make matters worse, we arrive early to sit in a specific part of the church. This particular family always arrives late and somehow manages to repeatedly sit in front of us.
So while stewing over this lack of action by the parents to teach their child how to behave and be still, Spirit intervened. It suddenly occurred to me that this repeated scenario in my most sacred place and ritual was actually an opportunity for me to be still. I was reminded of Psalm 46:10 which declares, “Be still and know that I am…”
Think about that statement for a minute – in this hectic world with our task-driven lives, the ability to be still and reflect is powerful. It allows us to reconnect to our Spirit and highest purpose. The knowledge of “I am” calls us to go beyond our present circumstance. While I depend on the ritual of meditative prayer, perhaps this young child is Spirit’s way of urging me to develop my own art of stillness and be able to summon that skill beyond a service or setting.
Where can you welcome more “stillness” in your life? Are you feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities and tasks? Do others take more energy than they return? Are you wondering if your life path is following the best course? Take a few moments to “Be still and know that I am.” Find the power of being still as you reconnect to Spirit and allow Spirit to guide your thoughts and actions.