Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lessons from a Mystery Writer

I'm slowly reading through a book by best-selling author Nevada Barr entitled "Seeking Enlightenment Hat by Hat: A Skeptic's Path to Religion". If you don't know her writing, Ms. Barr created the character Anna Pigeon for a series of contemporary mysteries, each one set in a different US National Park. The fact that the author is a former park ranger just gives the whole series that extra ring of authenticity.

"Seeking Enlightenment" is a joy.

The religion she ultimately travels to is the Episcopal Church, but this book has UU Christian written all over it. The book includes over 40 essays, each a few pages in length about a specific topic: Fear, Children of God, Sex, Humility, Stillness.

Stillness is a continuing source of challenge for me; that's why I write so much about it. Nevada Barr reminds us that the yak and yammer of our lives give us the sense that we are so-o-o important and there may be a myriad of connections we sustain, but there is no relationship. To truly relate, she says, there must first be stillness. It takes two to build a relationship and if we do not take the quiet time to know ourselves and our needs, we will never be able to relate to anyone else, especially God. Here come the buts, our arguments for not slowing down--but I have to..., but I'm expected to..., but if I don't...
In essence, when I say those things, I am saying: "I am too important to stop. I am too important to take the time for this 'knowing God' nonsense". I am giving into the belief that all I have to offer is the running of errands, commenting on the lives around me. I am not offering myself, merely my time and attention.
Page 62
Time and attention are all well and good, but they're surface giving, not relating and connecting; responding to the roles we all play, not to the essence of another person.

Nevada suggests to remind yourself "a hundred times a day" to turn down the static, take a breath and return to your own skin.

Without the stillness, we can't filter out life's jangling noise. Without emptying silence, we have no room to fill up with meaningful communication.

Be still.

1 comment:

  1. I've enjoyed one or two of Nevada Barr's books, so I connected with this post! Thanks, LaVerne!