Written as part of an Advent Daily Devotional for the UCC in Wallace, ID
In her book Untamed, Glennon Doyle describes flailing and spinning as she struggled to make the most important and difficult decision of her life. She polled her friends, read books, consulted a therapist and finally went to Google with her question, all of which failed to bring her clarity. Then one day she opened a card from a friend that said, in big, bold lettering, Be Still and Know. It was not a new verse or idea to her, but in that moment, it grabbed her attention and she actually stopped. And shut herself in her closet, sat down on a towel, closed her eyes and did nothing but breathe. She did that for ten minutes that day, and for countless days afterward. At first, those ten minutes felt like ten hours; she checked her phone, planned her grocery lists, and mentally redecorated her living room. But she stuck with it, worked hard at exercising her quiet, and gradually began to feel herself dropping lower during each closet session. As she sank, she found a place deep inside her where she discovered a kind of Knowing that helped nudge her, one step at a time, toward clarity. And she learned that God lives in those depths, helping her to hear her own voice and her own truth.
As I think about her discovery, I wonder if there’s a connection to Zechariah’s sentence to silence after receiving news of Elizabeth’s upcoming pregnancy. Unlike Doyle, he had life all figured out, so figured out that when the angel showed up with miraculous news, he said, nope, not us, not possible. And then he lost his ability to speak. Maybe he was sent to his closet, told to sit on a towel and breathe. Just breathe for ten minutes or nine months or however long it takes you to meet up with the God who lives inside you, who longs to introduce you to the world of possibility and clarity that’s within your reach. Be still and listen, until you know.
In these days infused and overflowing with noise, anxiety, despair and rancor, the invitation is the same: Be still and know. Stop where you are and what you’re doing. Breathe deep. Listen long. Reach for the wisdom that is beyond you yet within you. Meet up with the God who waits for you, and listen to the truth beyond words. And if meeting up with your towel in a closet helps, go for it.