“But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother’s breast; my soul is quieted within me.” (Psalm 131:2, BCP)
Babies know when Momma is holding them; Dad doesn’t sound or feel quite the same, and though Grandma and Auntie and Brother are lovely, no one is Momma except Momma.
From our very moment of creation–those little cells furiously dividing in a womb–there’s one voice, one heartbeat, one digestive system that calibrates reality for us. When we are again near that same heartbeat, napping on top of Mom, or hear that same voice (even decades later!) the deepest, most primal part of us responds. Some bit of ourselves, deeply coded with the nourishment (the life!) that this person provided for us, always knows Mom’s voice and body, the being that taught us by her simple presence and lifeblood what life and the world are.
God does exactly the same thing for us, but on an even deeper and more primal level. The most profound calm, the Most-Anti-Anxious-State, the greatest security, and the truest reality arrives when we sit in the presence of God. Yoga and meditation (and prayer) teach us to do this literally–to physically sit down, to face up to our racing minds (and hearts) and start digging in our heels, slowing down our minds, listening through distractions and listening into quietness.
One of my colleagues has a plaque on his office wall, “Bidden or unbidden, God is present.” God is sitting next to you, where ever you are, whether you want him there or not–when we quiet down, we can start to notice his presence.
Part of the point of yoga and meditation and prayer is to help us recalibrate to that original orientation–sometimes it’s awkward and feels uncomfortable or even painful (physically, or socially, or psychologically) to slow down, to sit down, to quiet down. Persistence in sitting quietly, in praying (or meditating or doing yoga), begins to loosen up our knotted up selves, and the searing shout of silence starts to feel more like a peaceful river of quiet.
God, his identifying heartbeat, his stirring voice, is not always the loudest or most insistent sound (often it is one of the quietest) in our lives, though it is the most profoundly sustaining.
For what God says to us in the quiet, a sermon preached by Sam Wells, “The Heart of God.“
For what struck me about Psalm 131 last September, “Psalm 131 Mash Up” (isn’t it funny how certain poems speak to you at particular moments of the year? And isn’t it funny how the same words evoke something so different in the same person a year hence?)