From an ad for meditation cushions, it jumped out at me.
Don’t just do something. Sit there.
Hmmm. Clever. I liked it enough to clip it out and add it to my vision board for 2011.
Yesterday, after dropping my niece off at the airport, I brought a chai latte and my journal to my son’s grave. It’s the place I often go when I need a little quiet contemplation, and it seemed right to visit on the first day of a new year.
As much as I speak with some bravado about letting joy direct my path this year, there’s a piece of me that’s still hanging onto some “oh my gosh I quit my job and I have no idea how to build a business” stress. I often wake up in the morning with a vague feeling of panic. I’m navigating a whole new world without a map, and that’s scary.
Those are the things I was thinking as I sat at Matthew’s grave. When I quit my job, I knew I’d need some transition time, and I took it. That’s what the month of October was for. I thought I could put it in a neat little box, and then on November 1st I’d be rarin’ to go. But it didn’t quite happen that way. Transition took longer than I expected. I jumped into my teaching role, but when it came to the other stuff I was planning to do, I just wasn’t finding a lot of momentum.
“Okay then, give yourself a little longer,” I thought. “Teaching is taking a lot of energy. Perhaps that’s enough for now, and then on January 1st you’ll be ready to rush full speed into a myriad of projects.”
So it was that, on January 1st, I sat at my son’s grave. “Now is the time,” I thought. “Today is the day that the momentum needs to kick into high gear.”
Sadly, though, there is still so much that isn’t clear. No lightening bolts have flashed words across the sky “this is your path, follow it and don’t deviate. Here are your ten easy steps to success.” Almost every day I think up a new project or a new direction (there is no shortage of inspiration). But after the ideas comes… nothing. No momentum, very few accomplishments, and no knock-your-socks-off clarity of direction.
I have to admit, a niggling fear keeps eating at me that I need to get better at writing business plans, and action plans, and marketing plans and goals and objectives and … well, maybe THEN – if there were an artificially constructed linear path laid out in front of me – I’d kick myself into full gear and follow it.
Into the cold wind at the grave, I whispered “Sophia God, show me some direction. Give me clarity in what I should do. I am confident that I am following a path I’ve been called to follow, and yet it still feels so unclear.”
In a moment, the wind whipped a whirlwind of snow around the grave. A spiral. Not a linear path.
After the whirlwind, the stillness. The blank slate of fresh snow like frozen waves drifting across rows and rows of graves.
And in the stillness, these words came back to me “Don’t just do something. Sit there.”
Really? That’s it? That’s the wisdom I came here to find? That’s the brave new world that January 1 is ushering in?
Inside the warmth of my vehicle, I scribbled my questions in my journal. Stillness? Is that the path I’m supposed to take?
“Yes, stillness. Stop the scurrying and worrying and hurrying. Stop the wheel-spinning and the trying too hard. Stop the striving. Stop. And wait. And listen. Pray. Meditate.”
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.” (Isaiah 30)
Wisdom won’t be tied up in little boxes to be reached for and plucked along artificially constructed linear paths. Wisdom comes to us in spirals. In whirlwinds. In whispers. At gravesides. On labyrinth paths. Wisdom appears in a heart that is ready for it. In a heart that is still. In a heart that listens. A heart that waits.
And so, despite the part of me that stubbornly insists I have to be BUSY to have value, I claim this mantra. Don’t just do something. Sit there.
Not exactly a business plan. But it’s the lesson that Sophia God wants me to learn. And relearn. I will try to be a patient student.
* * *
Today, a friend shared this video of David Whyte speaking about the place of poetry in the corporate world, and this poem found me…
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.