Almost exactly three years ago, Beth and I were celebrating our honeymoon in southern Oregon. We had rented a cabin located deep into the Cascade Mountains. On August 9th, I entered this into my journal:

 

Beth and I went exploring today. We made our way through paths of pine trees, and impressive cedars. The smell of juniper and pinesap blew with the air, so sharp and intense. I was searching for a sugar pine cone, a massive, nearly fourteen-inch long cone which dwarfs its small brothers and sisters that rest on the forest floor around it. It’s obvious then that these giants aren’t too hard to find when exploring the forest. I picked one up and marveled at its symmetry.

 

We then made our way to the shell of a tipi I constructed nearly two years ago. Its long poles have cracked and bent under the stresses of snow and wind. Yet its shape is commanding against the backdrop of the mountains. It rests on what feels like sacred ground. It is an open clearing surrounded by the tree-covered mountains, patches of twisted oak trees here and there, and massive, now dead pine trees covered in fluorescent green patches of moss. An all too familiar inner voice visits me, “Mark, what are you doing? Shouldn’t you be doing something?” I respond, “Why do we always need to be doing something? There is nothing wrong with doing nothing.” So I leaned against a long, sturdy branch that I found while walking. As Beth gathered petrified wood and small rocks, I just stood and did nothing but feel the warm sun. I danced around my makeshift walking stick to take it all in. There was nothing to do. How beautiful.

 

I closed this entry with this observation:

 

I stand like a tree. I look around and feel my body. I notice my breath...My listening is sharp and my seeing acute...My being lives and wisdom comes.

 

I am so intrigued by these moments of stillness, but I’ve experienced stillness like this only a few times.  When I try to reach that place of stillness by sitting quietly in prayer or meditation, I find myself haunted by the past or caught up in concerns of the future.

 

When perfect stillness comes to me, it is usually by surprise, when I’m actively engaged in doing something that I love.  When I am rooted in the beauty and joy of the present moment, I am open to the voice of God.  

—Mark Pratt-Russum