“A jar of stirred up river water.”
Does this describe you? Ruth Haley Barton was meeting with a spiritual director and the image they came up for how she was living her life was this image. Ruth had no stillness or silence in her life and was more apt to be the person who ran from activity to activity. As a fellow busy person, I found her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence, just that.
She shares her journey into stillness and the ways she implements it to “quiet the stirred up river water” within her, allowing her soul to settle was attractive to me and not shaming.
The idea of cultivating calmness and stillness is also attractive to me. I like being around calm people, especially in times of crisis or urgency. About six weeks after I got my drivers license I learned an important lesson and had a powerful reminder.
One snowy morning I was running late for school and didn’t take the time to scrap off my windows because I had a “defroster” button in the car I was driving. Convinced that “defrost” meant “instantly defrost so as to save you time.” With a neighborhood boy in my car I took off up the hill and in less than two blocks had driven into the back of a parked car, totaling both of them. (I feel a bit of a shame storm coming up, because this story doesn’t present me in the best light, but I’m not going to delete it. I’m not.)
The important lesson was not about defrosting (though I did learn about defrosters that day). No, I jumped out of my car and didn’t know what to do but start running home to get my dad. He’d know what to do. I ran down the street and he was pulling out of the driveway and as I told him what I’d done, he just calmly took over.
I don’t remember how the neighbor boy got to school, but I remember how my dad called the police and the insurance and handled all of the details in such a calm way. He was like that in almost any situation. The only time he got irritated was when someone would walk in front of him while he was watching the Denver Broncos (so as kids we learned to drop to our knees and crawl under his line of vision).
When I think of calm, I think of my dad and his mom, and I wish I’d inherited more of it. But thankfully, as Brene points out, calmness and stillness can be cultivated in us. It’s in the stillness we can hear the important voices and messages that tend to get drowned out by the urgent screaming ones.
I liked her phrase “anxiety detox.”
How about you, what stood out in this chapter? How are you with incorporating calm and stillness into your normal everyday life? What are the challenges of letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle? What subtle ways does our line of work impact your understanding and relationship with calm and stillness?
Looking forward to the chat,
P.S. Here are the posts related to The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown:
- Introductory chapters (doesn’t that seem a while ago?)
- The things that get in the way and Guidepost #1 –Cultivating Authenticity
- Guidepost #2 –Cultivating Self-Compassion
- Guidepost #3-– Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting go of numbing and powerlessness
- Guidepost #4 — Cultivating Gratitude and Joy
- Guidepost #5 — Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith
- Guidepost #6 –Cultivating Creativity
- Guidepost #7— Cultivating Play and Rest
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