I am sitting still, outside the Watertown Library, in a shady, breezy spot. I am trying not to move – preserving my physical and mental energy. I am not alone: Others around me seem to be engaged in this same pursuit – or non-pursuit – of being still.
I am sitting still, in part, because it is a beautiful, late-summer day, and the trees, grass, bushes, and more are the greenest of greens — the most verdant they will be this year. I want to take it in, preserve it in the Ball jar of my soul, so that I can take it out and be nourished by it during the frozen pea days of February.
I am also sitting still because I am tired, and the quietness and stillness feels rejuvenating. The quietness of sitting — not speaking, not cleaning, not planning, not marching off to the next thing –is reminding me that all is well, despite my yawns.
One of my favorite prayers in the Book of Common Prayer says, “in returning and rest we shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be our strength.” Turns out this is a quote from Isaiah (30:15), who spent a lifetime inviting people to return and rest in God. The prayer was penned by the Rev. Dr. John Suter, Jr. and published in 1919, as the First World War was winding down. One imagines so many people exhausted by the tragedy of the era needing such an invitation to recover strength for the days ahead.
And so today I sit in solidarity with them and with all tired souls in Watertown and with all those through the generations who have prayed Isaiah’s words and gotten just enough spiritual juice to rise from their seats and carry on. Here’s the whole thing, in the original language Suter used:
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.