How do you fill space in your life? When a spot in our schedule opens up, we might add another event. A moment of silence ceases by adding music or podcast. Rather than sitting still, we pick up something to check or read. I wonder if many of us are programmed to fill the spaces.
Do nothing. Those two words can evoke a variety of responses. In certain situations, we thankfully take ourselves off the hook. Other responses to those words illicit anxiety. Surely there’s something we can do or an activity to fill the space.
I struggle with the verse in Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Inaction equals unproductivity and activity equals productivity. Contrarily, the Psalmist invites to the stillness, the open space, and the nothingness. Ceasing activity creates space to connect with God.
Nothingness relinquishes our sense of control. We may not know what’s ahead. Stillness offers us grace by letting us “be” as opposed to producing. Thomas Merton says this about nothingness in No Man is an Island:
There are times, then, when in order to keep ourselves in existence at all we simply have to sit back for a while and do nothing. And for a man who has let himself be drawn completely out of himself by his activity, nothing is more difficult than to sit still and rest, doing nothing at all. The very act of resting is the hardest and most courageous act he can perform: and often it is quite beyond his power. (pg. 123)
Perhaps, in the nothingness we listen beyond the noise to the silence. Then we can begin to recognize God at work. Instead filling space or distracting ourselves, we remove the focus from ourselves to see Christ or even others.
Will you take time do nothing today? How can you experience stillness in your life today?
Photo credit by Anton Sulsky.