As I reflect on the harshness and hype that seem woven so deeply into the fabric of our current political, social, and international dialogue, a hymn has recently taken on fresh meaning and relevance for me:
Through the harsh noises of our day
A low sweet prelude finds its way;
Through clouds of doubt and creeds of fear
A light is breaking, calm and clear.
(“Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 238, John Greenleaf Whittier)
In these final days of 2016 it may sometimes appear that our world is driven solely by recklessness, mad ambition, and fear. But the message of this hymn turns all this on its head – reminding me that cultivating a daily awareness of that “low sweet prelude” is our great need going forward in 2017.
In Psalms 46:10, we read, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Doing this brings a healing sense of quietude, and also a needed rebuke to fear, worry, and the blare of all the world’s evil intent and action.
It reminds me of stepping outside on a snowy evening and just listening. The snow silently spreads a white mantle of beauty over everything. The accompanying stillness reminds me of elements of the Christ – God’s message of love for every one of us – that are so important to embrace and experience: the calmness and peace of God, the joy and presence of His gentle love for everyone.
This sense of stillness has a much deeper meaning than just being verbally quiet or physically still. It’s a compelling, comforting, God-given peace that grows out of an understanding of Him and of ourselves as His children. It’s an unshakable tranquility that comes as we see more clearly that we actually are spiritual, the very image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27). Prayer enables us to better understand and claim our true, spiritual identity as God’s child, and our right to a secure, spiritual sense of peace.
“But what does stillness actually have to do with everyday life?” some might ask. “What I need is something practical to quiet the noise and problems that bombard me every day!” I’ve found that calmness is key to healing and rising above fear, inharmony, and illness. The spiritual quiet that invites healing and salvation is more than just a human response to problems. It’s an invincible quality that has its source in God, divine Truth, and inspires receptive hearts with needed solutions. This quality of peacefulness is naturally reflected in each of us as the loved expression of God.
Yielding to a higher sense of stillness, of calmness, brings clarity to our prayers for ourselves, our families, and the world. And we don’t have to walk outside on a snowy evening to discover this! I invite you to join me in making a point of turning to God in our efforts to be mentally peaceful, even in the most unexpected and noisy places. Yes, it can be done! Think of Christ Jesus’ calm when he said, “Peace, be still” to a raging sea, while in a boat full of panicked people in mortal fear of a storm boasting threatening wind and powerful waves (see Mark 4:37-39). His prayerful stillness reset the entire scene as he rebuked the storm, and as the Bible narrative concludes, “there was a great calm.”
Welcoming Christ into our lives at this season – and every season – can quiet physical, emotional, and family storms. As we hold to that peace of the Christ-presence, we’ll begin to find ourselves discovering practical, problem-solving answers to challenges. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explained: “Christian Science silences human will, quiets fear with Truth and Love, and illustrates the unlabored motion of the divine energy in healing the sick” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 445).
We can embrace the profoundly active spiritual quietude of “divine energy” right where we are; there’s no special place, time, or condition for it. God’s peace is always available here and now to promote healing. Human will can’t substitute for the transforming effect of demonstrated spiritual stillness. It’s a God-given gift that each of us can rely on daily. As we do so, we will experience more deeply its steadying effect on our daily tasks, and witness more fully the healing it quietly and assuredly brings to our lives and the world.