Embracing times of stillness helps combat a noisy world

foggy morning, Ohio's Amish country
Morning stillness.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I couldn’t help but notice the timing. In less than 24 hours, I received two separate emails about creating a time of stillness.

The first was a daily devotional that I receive from a noted seminary. The title was “A Call to Stillness.” The second notice came from my church’s worship coordinating group announcing the inclusion of a time of silence and reflection in our weekly church service.

I was glad for both. Over the years, I have learned to embrace stillness as a welcomed respite from the world’s noisiness.

autumn sunset
Quiet beauty.
Even in my semi-retirement, I find extended times of personal quiet elusive. Living in a house built on an Amish farm is no guarantee of escaping worldly sounds.

I especially need a basic semblance of silence when I write. Extraneous, everyday sounds distract me. Take a log truck rumbling down Number 10 Hill, the colloquial name of the flattop knoll south of our house, jake brake baffling its hideous reverberation that echoes across the countryside and rattles the dishes in our china cabinet.

Even the tick, tick, tick of a clock can break my concentration. And yet, my wife can’t seem to get my attention if I’m watching a baseball game on TV.

That said a time of silence, in general, is a good idea for everyone no matter the situation. Taking a periodic quiet break has its just rewards.

fox squirrel
Fox squirrel.
In fact, I’ve tried to use those raucous interruptions as a reminder to sit back, relax, take a deep breath, and just listen. Or I reposition myself to the shade of my back porch where I can see five miles to the north.

If I sit still and quiet, I’m often amazed at what transpires all around me. A white-breasted nuthatch and a Carolina chickadee will chase each other around a bird feeder a few feet away. A fox squirrel, its bushy tail as long as its body, sits on its haunches munching on sunflower seeds unaware of my presence.

At the summit of the hilltop pasture behind our home, buggy horses and workhorses gather around the neighbor’s windmill. The horses’ tales swish in a natural, spontaneous syncopation. The early fall clouds drift by in the azure sky as silently as this precious moment.

For a man who over the years has been accused of liking to hear himself talk, I have learned not to be afraid of silence. In fact, I embrace it.

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I enjoy a leisurely walk in the woods, alone, binoculars and camera in tow, alert for whatever finds me next. If I’m noisy, I’ll likely miss a lot. Being quiet and reverent allows all of my senses to spark my imagination, fill my heart, stir my soul, warm my spirit, ignite my creativity, announce my gratitude for this incredible life and opportunities presented.

In this busy, busy world of ours, I need a time of stillness now and then. Such a time awakens me, invigorates me, enthralls me, heals me. Quietness opens me to new possibilities, new ideas, new knowledge, renewed life.

I read again that inspiring devotion written about Psalm 46, verse 10, “Be still and know that I am God.” With a blessed assurance, that reminder helps me to keep my focus on the essential tasks at hand.

I was glad for those back-to-back email reminders of the importance of stillness. Here’s hoping we all find the silence that we need in our all too busy and noisy lives.

countryside, Amish buggy
Peaceful surroundings.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Author: Bruce Stambaugh

Writer, marketer, columnist, author, photographer, birder, walker, hiker, husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, township trustee, converted Anabaptist, community activist, my life is crammed with all things people and nature and wonder. My late father gave me this penchant for giving and getting the most out of life, my late mother the courtesy, kindness, and creativity to see the joy in life. They both taught me to cherish the people I am with. I try and fail and try again.

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