And I Heard Be Still

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I heard you arrive. Your breathes, some rushed and hurried. Some slow and halting. You stepped across the threshold to this place. And when you came you brought yourself. As you are today. In this moment now. Let’s capture this day together. It must be an art, no science, this noticing. It must be practiced and possibly never perfected. But there is joy in the practice. Ready, set, go notice.

Aren’t we all archeologists digging in the soil of our very lives. Chipping through the rock and rubble looking, even longing for the shiny. The diamonds in the rough and rocky. Ah but there is beauty in the rusty patina places. The layers of living leave their beautiful marks. They paint strokes of story and telling, leaving whispers, shouts even of what has happened here. Don’t we long to know what lies just below the surface. The untold story. The unseen beauty, hidden art, waiting glory, buried treasures of extravagant grace.

We the curious seek a soul knowing. Early on we toddled around touched everything, put everything to our lips and in our mouths to answer the question what is it. Why do we slow down in our discovery. Halted by age, slowed by a deliriously jadded heart. Frozen by complacency. Settling for the whatever.

Seeing past the very surface, the cliches, the what is clearly showing brings joy and gratitude. I saw the spanish moss last night, dripping in all its grey glory, majestic like cashmere scarves thrown over the shoulders and limbs of the oaks. And I saw God’s creative wonder, His very intricate design. And I said yes to His world, anew again.

I was in the Presence of The Living God. In a world watermarked by the wispy strokes of His creative hand.

I am dancing in a place of quiet searching. I am looking with a hungry heart. I am slowing down to see and listening to the whisper of be still.

We prayed last night to the sound of crickets and cicadas. Our little village bible study. Our first night. Doors wide open. Fall sneaking in to still our frenzied hearts. We struggled with our calendars to make a schedule for our group. Oh the irony. We are studying simplicity and are calendars do not want to bend into the schedule of twelve weary travelers.

But the chorus of night’s choir calmed. And a  soliloquy of sudden singing soothed us while we prayed. And I heard be still.

Listen with me, see with me, in the middle of the messy living. Cry out with me, pray with me in the still of the fallen night. Look with me into the deep crevices of wonder. Find with me the lyrical and the lapping rhythms of the day. See with me past the surface, into the God places slightly hidden from view. Wonder with me at the treasure trove of buried beauty. Excavate the layered living. And mine the God Beauty of this day.

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Push it. Examine all things intensely and relentlessly.  — Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

(This is day three. Are you following daily. Let’s notice together. Visit me on facebook, on twitter, or subscribe to this journey. Click here to read all posts in this 31 day series. Did you notice I said how grateful I am to have you here. I am grateful you are here. Truly.)

In The Beginning There Were Questions

Welcome. I just noticed you stopped by. Are you visiting? Did you stumble here? Did you come by way of The Nester’s 31 Day Series Home Page? Are you a subscriber? Maybe you’d like to follow on facebook or twitter. Scroll down to the bottom of the page where I think you will find it easy to do just that. And you  may click on the  Subscribe tab at the top to receive posts daily. Its pure delight to travel this road together. ( Click here to see all the posts in this series beginning with the Introduction posted on September 30.)

In the beginning there were questions. Questions like why 31 days of noticing?. Why follow here when there are thousands of places to choose to read – books, web sites,, blogs,  magazines, and more blogs. 

This is not for every one, this writing series. Here. At Elizabeth W. Marshall, poetry and prose through a lens of grace. But everyone is cordially invited. Maybe you will pick up a word nugget, or slip a piece of fragile phrasing that sings to your heart. And place it in your pocket. Maybe you will be inspired by poetry or prose. Maybe your day will be richer by feasting on a photograph of God-beauty. Or perhaps you will find time to sit for a magical moment, to digest a song.

Or if you are like me, perhaps you yearn for, hunger for, a place to be still and meditative. Every day will be a little different. Some quiet. Some a little spicier and louder. But never too loud. Noticing requires a bit of stillness. Hushed spaces give our souls room to breath.

Thank you for choosing this place for your October. It takes engaging all of our senses to maximize the art of noticing. Deep breaths of God-beauty and His peace.  Let’s begin. There is a bench along the way if you grow weary. Just sit down. I saved one especially for you.

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Last night I opened the front door. It creaked a tired creak, parroting my own weary frame. I exhaled my day, stepped off the small front stoop and felt Autumn whisper with her cool breath. October is almost here, nighttime blew the words into my soul with her cool dark exhale. I have a gift for you. All you have to do is find the energy to look up. The sky holds a surprise.

As I gave my dogs a short last romp in the grass, the moon lassoed me. Between the tree tops I felt her take my chin and point it skyward. Wooing me to see a moon the shape, width and breadth of a clipped baby fingernail. Lit up and pinned against ebony. Surrounded by twinkling almost-October stars, spread out and winking, blinking. Shining  like a child’s art project. I smelled the Elmer’s glue holding the glitter in place. Creativity had just birthed a masterpiece in the night sky. A creation worthy of placing on my refrigerator. Under a magnet.  A study on the solar system, black construction paper and all the embellishments any craft box holds.. It seemed  created , especially for me.

My night would begin its end with a heavenly art project. My face slapped by cool wind. My heart quickened by Autumn smells. A gallery of glory. A private viewing in my very own front yard.

I have to remind myself. I need wide margins. That noticing comes from slowing down. Saving time and making room. So many years of my life were spent running. I spun like an animated Warner Brother’s character. My legs, Wylie Coyote. Roadrunner dusty blur. Blink and you miss. Blink and I missed.  I a whirling dervish. Like a hummingbird I lit hurriedly from place to place.

Life has taught me well to build wide margins in my living. And noticing with every fiber of me, it happens best when I make my margins school-girl wide. Set them fat and chunky. Build them in with wise intent. Design my day to save time for soaking in this very  season of my soul.

And the fuel that fed me was adrenaline. Dipping my beak into the flowers that kept my engines roaring fast, I flitted. I flew, my wings roaring with the sound of hurry.

I know me now. I know my soul needs space to notice. Little pieces of my insides feel less alive when I put my noticing on the top shelf in an old Uggs boot box. Something starts to stink. My noticing skills need to be excercised out in the open. To breath. Maybe yours do too.

Ready, set, go notice. 

(In the slowing down, feel free to record something from your  very own noticing in the comment box. I would love to hear your story of noticing).


Today is Day 16. The collective can be read here. I am joining The Nester for the remainder of October with other 31 Dayer’s .

I don’t even want for fear to have its own title, headline, place in bold, upfront in this series.

I want nothing to do with fear, for I have given enough space and time and energy to it already.

Writing about it is even painful.

But isn’t that giving in. Letting fear sap energy. Tremble knees. Shake confidence. Rattle senses. Muss up the mind.

Isn’t fear numbing and paralyzing when it gets any room in a life.

It is greedy and boorish. Demanding and a bully. It saps Joy, drains the good, pulls the plug and lets hope rush down the drain like dirty bath water filled with bubbles of maybe.

Just maybe writing of fear, restores Hope. Writing of fear and meeting it head on pushes it back, meets it head on, faces it down.

Fear has erased days and bound me up. It has named seasons. It has defined seasons of  unknowing, of infertility and waiting years to add children to a family, by birth and adoption.

It has crippled in seasons of waiting for a husband to return, after a season of separation, marked the days dark and long. Tried to wrangle all life out of the days of healing, to rename me the one whose husband left. Fear says failure and brokenness rather than Hope and Security.

Fear takes the good plans of God for redemption and restoration and leaves you frozen in unknowing, hopeless, hope dwindling and the self demanding an answer now, the self commanding and controlling outcomes.

Fear robs the days left with a child at home, when the self chooses to demand to know the future, and it demands to know it will be labeled good by the world’s standards, good by the description of the self-focused soul.

Fear teams up with frozen and frightened and steals the hours and days of a life with a power that is unbroken, but for Jesus.

When healing and His redemptive love restore a Hopeful, Trusting Heart, the fire of fear is doused and diminished. And the pile of ashes is blown anew with a Spirit of new-life and radiant restorative re-birth.

The days of waiting on children’s birth, marriages restored and even financial struggles to end are marked by a wholeness from leaning hard into Him and softening the stone-cold places that fear and trembling have made tough as a frozen tundra. Made life-less.

Anxiety and worry have fueled enough days, with OCD re-routing a life ,bound it up in chains, set the heart on a new gear worthy of a NASCAR winner. Chased me round and round,  like a pack of rapid dogs. Spun me round, dizzy, like a child on a playground whirly gig until nausea and fatigue take the weary spirit to the ground.

Fear fuels the tongue and raises the volume and chooses the words. Takes control when control feels lost. Shouts orders demands her way. Raises the blood pressure, raises the stakes, reddens the face, and raises the roof.

Who wins when fear is in charge and shouts at the top of her fearful lungs and blow her battle weary bugle – CHARGE. Who falls in line, follows? Who feels called in love to go her way. There are no winners when fear leads  the weary into the unknown places.

And slips into the night, commands the dreams and rattles the sleepy, gets you up to pace the floors at night, creaking lonely in the midnight hour, draining the life from a tomorrow. Re-naming the days to come as weary and hopeless.

Fear gets the title here. Fear gets a word in this 31 Day Series of Words, but only because Fear gives Hope an opportunity to do her best work, to come in and breathe a breath of new living and redemptions glory.

The reigns are dropped, the bridled grip on frozen frightened doubt and worry loosed, and Hope and Trust ride off on wings of eagles, bound for a life lived with glimpses of the glory of heaven.

Today I am joining the lovely Nacole at Six In The Sticks. She is writing on fear for 31 Days at The Nester. You can read more of her hope-filled writing there. And I will not let fear cripple my attempts to workout the technical glitches to guest post there. Still Hopeful. See you at Nacole’s, but still here.

Joining Eileen and Jen and Emily

Thank you for adding to the conversation by adding your beautiful words to the discussion. You bring so much more when your words are apart of this community.