The Lord Was Not in the Earthquake (Michael Ferguson)

For me, one thread of mental resistance against meditation is the thought-pattern that goes something like this: “Meditation? Sitting? Being still? I have to DO something! Movement is what gets things done, not stillness!” The judgmental voice inside of me even preemptively criticizes those who may be drawn to meditation as people who are lazy, who are just looking for an excuse to not have to be doing work they should be doing in their own life.

What insanity these voices represent!

From my personal experience, the people who I have met who are most interested in meditation are some of the least lazy people I know, so my own firsthand experience with meditators should shoot down that voice before it gets too carried away.

Respecting the idea that it is a non-stop stream of doing that I need to please the Lord and fulfill my life purposes, the scriptures help me here.

In 1 Kings 19, we have the prosaic account of Elijah going to the mountain to stand before the Lord. The author reports that before Elijah, a great wind blew that was so strong, it started to break the rocks to pieces. Then after the wind, there was an earthquake, followed by a fire. However, the Lord was not in either the strong wind, the earthquake, or the fire. On the contrary, the Lord was in the still small voice that followed.

In my own life, it’s so easy to be seduced by the idols of busyness and constant stimulation that rule over my cultural context. And even when I’m not directly busy or overstimulated, it’s all too easy for my mind to be cycling through thought patterns about busyness or media or politics, not to mention my “to-do” lists for church or family. But perhaps to commune with Deity, the winds of busyness and “to do”, or the tremors of pop culture or the fires of politics need to truly stop for a few moments. And perhaps in cultivating the experience of stillness, I will allow the Lord to be present with me in the still small voice.

This, to me, is mindfulness. It is the disciplined and deliberate effort I make to nurture the stillness of my soul.

In 1833, in a time when the first generation of Latter-day Saints were experiencing great suffering under the persecution of mobs in Missouri, the Lord reiterated through the Prophet Joseph Smith the message that was given to the Psalmist thousands of years prior: be still and know that I am God. It is instructive and inviting to me to have the Lord offer this counsel to his followers across millennia of time: be still and know that I am God.

As we cultivate stillness of soul through our practice of mindfulness, may we come to feel the still small voice of the Lord, and in that still small voice may we find the supreme peace of knowing that He is God.

2 responses

  1. Michael, this really echoes my own experiences with mindfulness and life in general. I love how you compared the busy-ness of life with the winds and earthquakes Elijah saw, what a great analogy to keep in mind. It just reminds me, yet again, how relevant both mindfulness & the scriptures are in my day-to-day life. Thank you!

  2. Beautiful! . . I *love* these two parts especially:
    “Perhaps in cultivating the experience of stillness, I will allow the Lord to be present with me in the still small voice.

    This, to me, is mindfulness. It is the disciplined and deliberate effort I make to nurture the stillness of my soul”

    Yes, Yes! Thank you, Michael.

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