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Be Still

Just last night I heard a song by a band called The Fray:

Be Still

Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes upon you
And colors you with fear and shame
Be still and know that I'm with you
And I will say your name

If terror falls upon your bed
And sleep no longer comes
Remember all the words I said
Be still, be still, and know

And when you go through the valley
And the shadow comes down from the hill
If morning never comes to be
Be still, be still, be still

If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I am

Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still and know I am


I have to confess, I’m tired. Pitilessly tired.  

My words have lost all their grace and liveliness, and now sit neglected in wheelchairs in the corners of my mind; wheels locked; drooling with their bibs askew. They glance at me furtively when I come near, but then go back to nodding slowly at the middle button of their misbuttoned plaid flannel shirts, and will not look at me again.

In the mornings, when I read the Daily Office, it still speaks to me: it still awakens understanding; still invites trust; still looks back at me with a steady gaze of recognition, but it breathes no words into my mind to share with you. The music has fallen silent.

I am reading Pema Chodron’s book, “When Things Fall Apart,” and her words have immense presence. They don’t recommend; they don’t exhort; they don’t prescribe; they just are.

The lyrics of the song, “Be Still” moved me to tears, and so I thought that I would use those words today. When I first heard them, I recognized them, and I imagined for a moment that it was God who was singing to me. Just now I remembered how every night when I was a child my father would sit at the top of the stairs, between our two rooms, and sing me and my sister to sleep. It was like that.

It’s all true:

Darkness has come upon me,

and I am stained with fear and shame,

and I do hear my name spoken in the night.

Terror has fallen on my bed,

and I have been sleepless in the night,

and I do remember all the words you’ve spoken.

The shadow has come down from the hill,

and the morning has not come to be,

and I did forget the way to go;

I did lose where I came from;

and the one I thought was standing with me has turned away.

There is nothing to be done.

There is no end in sight,

and no beginning to look back on.

There is no remedy; no answer.

No future; no past.

Only the Word and the Way:

Be Still.

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