“We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather around us that they may see their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even a fiercer life because of our quiet.”
– William Butler Yeats –
A mind like still water. My mind is more like a jacuzzi. Yet in those moments of stillness I can see a glimpse of my own soul, and for a time life is clear and fierce and free.
What would it take to live there more often? What does the soul need in order to come out of its den and offer us gifts of hope, wisdom, and creativity?
Largely, I think the soul needs quiet in order to reveal itself. Like a soulful introvert (those whose few words cut to the heart of every matter), what is truest and transformative lives in a subtle space. Rather than a neon sign, wisdom is more like sun’s amber goodnight kiss that sets the earth aglow.
Our lives, however, are filled with visual and audio noise:
- Billboards and the clutter of nonstop advertisements
- Texts and tweets
- The inner, anxious clanging of busy lives with endless to-do lists
- A 24-hour news cycle that compels us to check Smartphones incessantly
We live in a noisy culture. It’s little wonder that so many of us feel on edge and don’t know where to place our attention, our vital life energy. And this is an essential question. As my spiritual director recently told me: “Love is infinite, but your energy is finite.”
A deeper knowing requires a stillness, a haven from and midst the noise. It requires us to regularly unplug, unwind, and unfurl ourselves into silence, into nature, into creative expression, and into life without purpose or agenda. Only then can our purpose become clear and our daily agenda be in alignment with soul.
When we intentionally seek stillness, when we cultivate it like a rare and fragile flower, then it blooms wisdom. Actions flow freely and fiercely from wisdom because our energy and attention are undiluted. We are less concerned with doing everything right, and find ourselves doing the right things.
Over time, we might even notice others pausing in our presence to catch a glimpse of themselves in our deep, still waters.