I’ve been in the city for a month now and can see and feel all around me the frantic pace and resulting stress of the city dwellers. I notice the resignation and/or frustration on the faces of strangers sitting in cars that are stationery or moving so slowly, taking 30 minutes to drive what would usually take just 5 minutes. The slowness of traffic just adds to the overall pace of life.
I have become aware that it is not just solitude I need on a regular basis, but also stillness. One of the things I have taken from my pilgrimage along the Camino Francis is the understanding of the importance of stillness. Solitude and stillness was available to me even while walking. A frantic pace of life makes it difficult to find times of solitude and stillness. We all too quickly adjusts to being super busy and living at the pace required to keep up the adrenaline rush.
Classroom teachers talk of their concern that young people today are unable to be still long enough to engage with their learning. They are so used to being in environments of stimulation and entertainment. John O’Donohue in anam cara writes, “Pacal said that many of our major problems derive from our inability to sit still in a room. Stillness is vital to the world of the soul” (p. 234). He also writes that our lives are restless because our minds are always elsewhere, either in the past or the future. What I notice about myself, is that my mind is often not on the task at hand, but thinking about what I need to be doing. Lists help me here, for once something is written down, I no longer have to think about it – to remember – and I can later take the time to plan the task or accomplish it – get it ticked off.
So in my time in the city, where I currently find myself – and I am grateful I have the flexibility in my life to be in the city right now to give family members support – I need to take the time for stillness, to be prayerful, to be grateful, to be quiet, to be still.
With the above in mind, I went for an early morning walk (although not so early because of the extended daylight saving hours and the later time of the sun’s rising) and spotted a small strand of colour in the sky. I couldn’t see any rain at all, but took heart from the encouragement of the band of colour. There was promise for me in that band of colour. May my life continue to have purpose and contribute to the well-being of those whom I love and the others who come into my life.