Eugene Peterson was being interviewed on the podcast. He is best known for his Message paraphrase of the Bible. Eugene, 84, is also widely admired for a life that is perhaps best captured by the title of his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society.
Eugene recalled one of the foundational experiences of his life. It was a retreat where silence was observed. Taking silent walks in quiet, natural settings has been a weekly practice of his in the many years since then.
Though my ride was mainly through sunny farm land, I biked across a bridge over a creek, where a cluster of trees shaded me for a moment. It triggered a thought of what a wise woman named Helen had shared last Sunday after our worship service. Helen said she felt at home in this particular church because she could see trees through windows and they reminded her of God and His beautiful creation.
Eugene and Helen, I got the message! On the way back home, I turned off the podcast, stopped on the bridge, and spent several minutes just listening to the creek and the breeze in the trees. (See photo above.) I didn’t get any exercise or learn anything new in those five minutes, but they were the best part of the ride.
Many people know Psalms 46:10, and that was my meditation on the bridge:
“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10a (NLT)
I couldn’t help but check the Message paraphrase when I got home.
Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”
Sometimes God speaks most boldly in the quiet beauty of His creation. In the face of the business of life and our drive to maximize our times, sometimes the boldest thing we can do is stop and listen.