When I was leaving the kitchen with my coffee this morning, one of my housemates asked, “What today’s blog topic?” My answer was as simple as it was true: “I won’t know till I get back upstairs.” So up I came. I sipped my coffee. I looked out the window. I wondered about a lighthearted line or two from the Sufi poet Hafiz. I read Alan Cohen’s entry for this date…Nothing felt right.
What finally came was a distinction that I have been experimenting with for awhile now: the similarity but difference between the concepts of silence and stillness. The dictionary makes quick work of the definitions. Silence is the absence of sound. Stillness is the same but more; stillness is defined as the absence of movement and sound. I think of hearing people when I was a child telling their children to “keep still.” I thought they wanted them to stop talking. I wonder if they knew they were telling them to stop squirming. As I think back, I recall how strange a directive that would have been in our family. My parents never told us to keep still. I guess we were a rather placid trio, not too fidgety.
My purpose now in bringing up the topic is the benefit of adding stillness to my practice of silent prayer. Although it’s more about the mind than the body, I realize that quieting my body is much easier than stilling my mind but if I do bring my body into total stillness, my mind seems more able – or at least willing – to let go of the torrent of thoughts as well.
Just one more word: hush. I have begun to say that word quietly but aloud as I begin to quiet down. It has – for me – the quality of a mother rocking her crying child and the miracle that happens when she practically croons the words…”Hush, now…Hush…”