white space sits still

The outward man is the swinging door; the inner man is the still hinge.
Meister Eckhart

Sometimes the best way to get my insides still are to get my wiggly outsides still.

I know when I am putting Crosby, a.k.a. the Blueberry, to sleep, he is wide-eyed and wiggly on my shoulder until the very moment he surrenders to sleep. Whenever I wonder why he fights stillness so fiercely when it is so clear he needs it, I realize that's me!

So last month I went away to a cabin in the woods to find stillness and solitude.

Going away isn’t always how I get white space, it isn't even the best way otherwise it would be too rare. I am carving out white space right where I am, but every so often, changing scenery is restorative and I was hoping to bring some restoration home with me.

I had just had a busy season, a trip home to Texas, my Key2Free auction kick-off, hosting a sweet pool party for Grace girls, a shower for Baby Girl and a party for Kyle’s 21st birthday and a double dollop of Blueberry Days close together. These are all people close to my heart and right where God has called me, with my family, sharing my home, pouring into Door to Grace girls. Still, it was a lot of movement, a pouring out of good things from my heart and now I was looking to fill back up. So, when I saw a tiny square window open up in my calendar, I headed over the mountains all by myself for 48 hours of quiet white space to reflect on it all.

When I drop down on the other side of the Cascades, I drink in the scenery like a tall glass of cool water. I suddenly realize my smile is spreading wide on my face with the light across the mountains. The road hugs the winding river. I get glimpses of the water through fir trees, sometimes whitecaps rushing over smoothed and shiny stones and other times a wide open view of a green glass pool near Detroit dam.

There is one spot where the road cuts through a petrified lava flow and I know I am getting near. After the mountain pass, I start scanning the landscape for critters like chipmunks, hawks, coyotes, elk and white tailed deer. I have left the built city and I am expecting connection with God’s natural hand.

My simple to-do list read like this:

  • Pick wildflowers
  • take long walks
  • sit out on the porch
  • go to bed early
  • lay in the hammock and watch the stars
  • read
  • write
  • pray
  • count my blessings
  • be still
  • wish my Mama happy birthday

On the day I was to head home, I came out on the front porch to sit and read. (happy sigh here) I was covered in an old quilt soaking in the silence, when I heard a gentle crunching in the pine needles off to one side of the porch. I looked up from my book and a lone doe came into view. I was sitting very still, so she didn’t see me at first. But then she must have caught my scent because she stopped abruptly, turned her face toward me with her satellite ears straight up and flicked her tail. We just sat staring at each other for several long seconds. I was still as stone. Then she spooked and shot off, all feet together in a sure-footed hop-hop-hop motion.

It was beautiful!

Thinking she might be back and hopefully with others, I reached for my camera and poised for her return. She did come back a second time, alone again. This time she took her time exploring even closer to the porch as if just for my delight. I sat stone still as if part of the porch myself. I did not want to scare her off.

I had been reading about stillness in Bible stories and noticed that God asks us to be still right before He is to do an awe-inspiring thing; before the people crossed the Red Sea freed from slavery, before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land and as a thunder and lightning warning that He is king just before he gave them a man-king.

Beyond a particular moment in time, being still is a permanent stance we take toward God. It is trusting Him and His ways, it is recognizing His power, beauty and rule. It is turning our face towards His. It is surrendering heart and soul to the One who commands even the sun to stand still in the sky.

Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.
Psalm 46:10 The Message

I am still enjoying that extra dose of stillness as I write this to you back home at my dining room table with a busy day ahead of me.

Here a couple of questions to ponder.

How will you be still today right where you are?

When you get away what do you bring back home that restores your soul?