11 January 2013

Be Still

IMAG0087I thought I would continue with the theme from the last post of learning to labor and to wait on things. One of the more disturbing things I see in the world around me, as well as in myself, is a difficulty with being still. We live in a world that is no longer content to simply let the day dawn and enjoy life as it comes. Smartphones, computers, tablets, and a constantly “connected” society has, in many ways, led to a dysfunctional and emotionally disconnected world, despite all the instant inter-connectivity that exists. I see it in some of the youth (and their parents) that come through our camp programs, and especially in the inner-city pre-apocalyptic kids. Despite overwhelming poverty and often the lack of even the most basic of necessities, most of them somehow have every electronic gadget imaginable in their book bags. I frequently like to go to a nice pub and sit for a few hours, working a little, talking with the bartender or waitstaff, and sometimes simply just watching people. The trend of non-communication is disturbing to say the least. I see so many people, sitting with others, yet their faces are buried in a phone or tablet, oblivious to the conversation happening around them. No doubt they’re tweeting or updating statuses about what they’re doing and discussing it with other people across the interwebs, however, they’re not engaging in what is happening right in front of them! I’ve struggled to understand this new way of relating and to try and grasp the good in it, especially as I work in IT for a profession and therefore must know and use a lot of the technology I’m now disparaging. I do think it has its uses, however, I’m not sure the positives outweigh the negatives at this point, and the downside isn’t just detachment from the present. There is often a more silent and sinister evil that comes along with it, that being a deep sense of loneliness despite one’s “connections” to other people, and an inability to be still. IMAG0091Growing up without most of these “conveniences”, the days of my youth were spent exploring, playing outside, full of simple joys like backyard boxing matches, fort building, hiking through vast woods and cornfields on a bright summer day, intoxicated by the smell of warm soil, green leaves, and growing grains, building bike ramps, gaining speed, and the sharp intake of breath that comes just before the first jump, unsure of the outcome, the thrill of the high dive at the county pool, the smell of popcorn and licorice ropes and the crack of the bat at the local ball park, and late nights lying still in the grass in a sleeping bag, watching the bright Mid-Summer moon rise, her procession accompanied by a host of lightning bugs silhouetted against millions of stars, turning the sky into a canopy of living Christmas lights. All was magic and all was life, full and wild and free, and filled with friends to share with…and it was enough. These days what I observe most often are people moving at a frantic pace, running to get where they’re going, heads buried in devices that tweet, update, synchronize, and distract, with no notice of life all around them; and what is the end result? A world filled with burnt-out, overwhelmed, lonely, isolated individuals who can no longer sit still long enough to listen to a 45 minute album, or watch an entire ball game without checking some sort of device at least once. Is it any wonder that we have the highest rates of suicide, homicide, and depression ever recorded? We are quickly becoming a world without purpose, cut off from real life and real need, and yet with so many desperately crying out for all of it to simply…STOP! We were not made for this – we were made to live life as it comes, on a day by day basis, present to whatever blows our way on the wild wind. In all my work with the camp I’ve been involved with over the past 13 years, my favorite aspect of the week in Summer that we spend together, other than simply being with 90+ other adults and youth, is that we ban all electronic devices for the entire week. We have a way to update a daily blog in the admin cabin (and I’m even starting to debate the usefulness of that, as it has begun to feed into the insatiable desire of some to be “updated” on everything as it happens) however, that is the only contact allowed during the week. The campers often begrudge this at the beginning of the week, but not surprisingly, by the end, they are calmer, happier, and in general beaming with life and love…all of it accomplished without the constant click and whir of devices tied into social networking. We work hard all week on being still, with planned times twice each day for absolute quiet, and the results are phenomenal, although, I don’t think that should be surprising. The scriptures and the wise of all religions all speak of the need for inner stillness…inner peace…and a daily connection with the Divine. There really is no other way to see and hear the Divine within and right in front of us if one’s head is constantly buried, blind to the world all around. Life and happiness are to be found, as they always have been, in actual relationships with those around us, in turning from our own isolated self-centeredness to other-centeredness and waking up to the reality that we are not alone and were never intended to be so. We are communal creatures, created for communion with the Divine and with one another.IMAG0116 I am in love with the new Killers album, Battle Born, and while the strong possibility exists of future posts containing other songs, it just so happens that one of the new tracks is titled, “Be Still”, and is absolutely a breath of fresh air in a tumultuous and fear-struck world. Here it is with lyrics below. Enjoy – and might I suggest that you take the time to put in some headphones or retreat to a quiet place, close your eyes, and really listen to the song, letting the lyrics wash over you and the message sink in, and upon its completion spend 5 minutes in silence…just breathing the deep breath of God…and letting the go of the day’s cares. Be still…be well…and may all light and joy be yours!


Be Still by: The Killers

Be still, And go on to bed

Nobody knows what lies ahead

And life is short,To say the least

We’re in the belly of the beast

Be still, Wild and young

Long may your innocence reign

Like shells on the shore

And may your limits be unknown

And may your efforts be your own

If you ever feel you can’t take it anymore

Don’t break character, You’ve got a lot of heart

Is this real or just a dream?

Rise up like the sun, Labor till the work is done

Be still, One day you’ll leave

Fearlessness on your sleeve

When you’ve come back, Tell me, what did you see

Was there something out there for me

Be still, Close your eyes

Soon enough you’ll be on your own

Steady and straight

And if they drag you through the mud

It doesn’t change what’s in your blood (Over chains)

When they knock you down

Don’t break character, You’ve got a lot of heart

Is this real or just a dream?

Be still Be still Be still Be still

Over rock and chain, Over sunset plain

Over trap and snare, When you’re in too deep

In your wildest dream, In your made up scheme

When they knock you down, When they knock you down

Don’t break character, You’ve got so much heart

Is this real or just a dream?

Oh Rise up like the sun, And labor till the work is done

Rise up like the sun, Labor till the work is

Rise up like the sun, And labor till the work is done

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Posted 11 January, 2013 by Luke Beecham in category "General

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