Daily Gospel

MAY 12, 2020 TUESDAY

‘Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. - Psalm 46: 10-11
Maybe I have been living much too fast, too restlessly, too feverishly, forgetting to pay attention to what is happening here and now, right under my nose. Just as a whole world of beauty can be discovered in one flower, so the great grace of God can be tasted in one small moment. Just as no great travels are necessary to see the beauty of creation, so no great ecstasies are needed to discover the love of God. But you have to be still and wait so that you can realize that God is not in the earthquake, the storm, or the lightning, but in the gentle breeze with which he touches your back. — Henri Nouwen

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Being still has become a necessity right now. Being still in these present days means “stay inside, stay apart.” And if you need to stir — wear a mask and stay six feet apart. Being still for the Psalmist, and for Henri Nouwen is to be still to the noises and distractions of this world, and focus upon God. We stop, redirect our attention, and become active and refocused.

“I am” are two words. What do they mean for you? Moses asks God, “What’s your name. What do I call you?” To have one’s name means they are identified. God tells Moses he appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but did not make himself known to them as the LORD, or YAHWEH — in other words, by name. The only word God gives Moses is YAHWEH, which vaguely translates, “I am” or “I am who I am.” It’s a word with meaning, but not an image that can be possessed. I am named “Steven,” by my parents. My name means “crown.” I doubt any who know me think of me as “Crown.” You know my face. You know me by relationship — spending time together. You have an image of me as a person, you name when you want my attention, or share your experience of me with another. God, the LORD, meaning the one we know differently than we know each other, yet in the same way – by a relationship that is invisible, yet present, if we take time to “be still,” as the Psalmist says. That is how we know that “I am” is God. Beyond name or face recognition, but by acts attributed to a being and presence. God is a marker for us, at first, that puts some sort of vague image in our minds. As we take time and develop a relationship, but image moves into our hearts and becomes an ongoing presence we relate to, as no other.

It is hard to pay attention to a being, a face, you never “see.” Yet God is always present. Our attention gets directed elsewhere. I realize that in these days of being more still, slowing down. As hard as these days are, as much as my pace has changed, I can devote more attention to prayer, reflection, reading — making time to relate to “I am.”

As Nouwen writes, he is otherwise occupied, to pay much attention to the “I am” right before him. To be still and know that in a flower is God’s presence; in the joy of taste, in staying where you are, to look about and sense God is all around in creation; in the gentle breeze touching your face, your back. These are actions you can take today, to “Be still and know,” in the small ways, we miss when we focus on the larger things — the “earthquakes, storms, lightning” that draw us away from centering our attention, focus — being still to know “I am” is present and with you.

A challenge for today, and maybe for each day — make being still to know the LORD a daily practice, if it’s not already. If it is, be still and enjoy your “knowing” – all the evidences of God’s love touching you in the subtle, but often missed beauty of creation, of friendships, of memories you cherish. “Be still and know,” the love, grace, and beauty of the Father, Son and Spirit within and around you.

Blessings, and the grace of stillness to know, Fr. Steve 

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