Month 3:11, Week 2:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year:Day 5936:070AM|
7 Sabbaths + Omer Count Day #3
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 31 May 2012
Are You Happy? X
Finding Eternal Rest...While Alive
Continued from Part 9
Meeting Yahweh in the "secret place" is our goal and to do so we must look within and find stillness. By becoming still and silencing the many voices in our head and settling the emotional dust storms in our lev (heart) we are presenting ourselves with the opportunity to become aware. Stillness and awareness are very much connected in two ways: stillness is both the precondition and the consequence of increased awareness.
Let me give you an illustration. Some children come across a hedgehog, tell one another to stop and be quiet, tiptoe closer, bend down and look. There is more in this sequence than the fear of disturbing the hedgehog and sending it scuttling down into the undergrowth, though this fear itself implies some sort of respect. Rather the hedgehog by its very presence, its sheer reality and distinctive individuality, brings a sense of quietness. The children are going along talking, playing and preoccupied with their own concerns when the hedgehog brings them up short and silent.
It's a bit like that in our relation to Yahweh. We become aware of His reality 'out of the blue' and this awareness brings an inner shalom (peace) of mind. Yet, in the nature of the case, this reality cannot be commanded. Yahweh makes Himself known, or known more deeply, according to His own purposes. So it is the first aspect of the connection between stillness and awareness that must be our main concern: stillness as a precondition for the dawning of Yahweh's reality.
When artists sit down before a landscape that they want to paint they first look and see, look and see, and look and see again. They want what is before them to reveal itself, to make it known as it is in all its sheer, unsuspected, surprising reality. So the painter tries, as far as possible, to empty his mind of other thoughts, preconceptions, and clichés of art, in order that the reality before his eyes may dawn as it is.
In our relation to Yahweh this is of particular importance, for inevitably we project onto Elohim (God) our own hopes and fear. To some extent we cannot help creating Him in our own image as a 'god' we most want or most fear. Stillness in the soul better enables Yahweh to make Himself known to us as He is, more in His terms and less in ours.
I can share an experience I had a a few nights ago. I was anxiously turning over some deep concerms in my mind not knowing what the solution to these problems could possibly be and wanting Yahweh to so very much speak a revelation to my lev (heart). In my striving I was getting nowhere (not taking the advice I have been giving in these devotionals) and at length just gave up. A short while later, whilst lying in complete quietness, I heard Him speak to me but not at all what I was expecting: "My son..." was all that He said. What I needed at that moment was not answers to difficult questions but the reassurance that I was still in a Father-son relationship with Him and with that realistion to simply continue exercising emunah (faith) and let Him take care of everything that I could not.
The poet T.S.Eliot once wrote:
He then went on to say that we are to wait without love and faith and thought as well. Though that might perhaps at first sight seem a bit strange what he meant was that we always tend to invest the object of our hoping, loving, believing and thinking with all too human characteristics, reflecting our own limitations. We try to put Elohim (God) in a box and then tell Him what to do for us within it. Now, of course, emunah (faith), ahavah (love), tiqvah (hope) and so forth are all, in reality, there, in the very act of waiting upon Yahweh: in the stillness.
"I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope" .
This stillness is a preparation for Yahweh but it's also a participation in Him, for He is Himself stillness to a supreme degree. It is what defines eternal rest. Our levim (hearts) are restless until they rest in Yahweh Himself. He is eternal rest, the dynamic stillness at the centre of the universe.
What this means is that the stillness which is a preparation for knowing Yahweh and the stillness which is Yahweh Himself interact upon and mutually reinforce one another. Stillness of soul prepares us for Elohim (God) and the dawning of His reality enhances that stillness.
This is one kind of stillness. But there is another.
Continued in Part 11
 T.S.Eliot, East Coker III in The Four Quartets
Richard Harries, Prayer and the Pursuit of Happiness (Fount, London: 1985)