A couple of years ago our family was white water rafting down the rapids of the Pecuare River in Costa Rica. The water sprayed in our faces, a guide shouted commands from the back, and we all paddled hard while also trying to stay in the boat. The river was furious and took us where it wanted.
Suddenly, at a moment when I was unsure if we could navigate another complicated maneuver, the river became calm as it drifted us through a long canyon. The tall canyon walls felt like they were there to protect us from the dangerous waters we had just came through. I breathed deeply, repositioned my feet that had become painfully wedged under the seat and released the paddle so my arms could rest. We would be disappointed if the whole river were that calm, but following a long stretch of raging rapids the stillness was a welcome change of pace.
Many times in life I have felt like that rafting trip–like I was frantically paddling and barely staying in the boat through rapid currents of commitments, family needs and expectations. In the midst of water spraying in my face and unexpected problems about to knock me (or someone in the family) out of the boat, I’m often reminded of what God says to His people. (Psalm 46:10, 37:7)
Stillness–it’s where tending to the soul happens. It’s where we tune out the noise around us and pay attention to what’s happening on the inside.
Sometimes life is sweet enough to guide us into a season of slow drifting where we can be still enough for rest, renewal, listening and paying attention to our Maker. But usually, times of stillness are only going to happen if we seek them. Otherwise, we just keep paddling frantically.
God knows we need times of stillness. Even white water rafters know that amidst the fast currents, there are times that the crew gets tired and needs to pull over in an eddy for rest before the next turbulent curve of the river. Why are we so reluctant to do the same?
It is my desire that while I enjoy the rapids of life I will also find the still eddies in my routine where I can tend to my soul. I don’t want my soul to be a casualty because I didn’t pull out of the fast currents often enough for renewal. I want to turn down the noises around me and listen to what God has to say to me.
It seems that as I move through different seasons of life I always have to look for new ways to find that calm eddy on the edge of the river outside the rapid flowing current. Some practices that have helped me enjoy stillness for the soul are:
- waking up early enough for some quiet before the rush of the day
- a walk around the neighborhood
- scheduling cushion time between meetings
- turning off the radio in the car
- choosing not to turn on the TV in the living room
- sitting in the rocking chair instead of tending to one more task
What are some ways that you have found helpful to create spaces of stillness in your rhythm of life?
May you always find calm waters for stillness as you enjoy the rapids of life.