Act of Faith: At home in stillness and solitude

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It’s raining again, but I don’t mind.

I have, in one hand, a large mug filled with freshly brewed coffee, and in my other hand, a bible, pen, and journal.

I am sitting in my over-stuffed brown leather loveseat. Behind me, on my kitchen table, a candle is lit, carrying the soft aroma of an old country kitchen – cinnamon and cloves.

I have music playing: David Nevue’s solo piano, While the Trees Sleep.

As I sit here, I am overwhelmed by great stillness, and again, overjoyed with this great gift I have been given of leading a life that affords me this precious time at the beginning of each day.

“How do I thank you, O God, for moments like this? There is no where else I desire to be, then right here with You.”

I begin to read my bible. I always begin my reading with a proverb that corresponds with the day of the month, and so here I begin to read in Proverbs 16.

Verse 1: “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.”

Verse two: “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

My mind began to process again what I was presently doing with my life and today’s blog started in my head, so I made my way down to my little office; music still playing, candle still burning, my coffee and bible in hand, to write.

Stillness and work.

My work is to write, I know this now, but words are nowhere to be found when my life is busy.

“Commit your work to the Lord ... ”

This scripture brought reflection upon the life I have led. I thought of how, from my childhood, God has been preparing me for this path of work; and I remembered the Jitterbug.

Every summer my family would drive north to a camping ground located in Gowganda, Ont. There at the old Sportsman’s Camp, we would pitch our camper for two weeks.

My dad loved to take us out fishing.

My favorite time of day to climb into that old aluminum boat was at dusk, when everything in creation had come to a quiet halt.

The water’s surface became like a large mirror, still and quiet.

I remember as a child being mesmerized by this great stillness, and my child eyes feasting on every reflection I could find, the shoreline with its trees and rocks, and the sunset appearing duplicated everywhere I searched.

I remember feeling at home in this great stillness and solitude.

Dad would take the boat to a distant shoreline defined by fallen trees emerging from the water.

He would shut off the boat’s motor, drop the anchor and prepare our fishing rods.

We were encouraged to speak in whispers to keep from ‘spooking’ the fish (bass are illusive fish, dad would tell us).

He would attach ‘fake bait’ to my fishing rod.

The fake bait had a name: Jitterbug.

This bait was designed to make a quiet noise of bubbling across the surface of the water, which would then spike the curiosity of hungry bass to emerge up out of the water and bite it.

This ornamental piece of bait could only be used effectively when the surface of the water was perfectly still.

So I would sit and wait patiently, casting my fishing line and reeling it in, all the while being fully aware of the blanket of stillness I sat under.

The Jitterbug spoke lessons of calm, stillness, patience, observance and, ultimately, lessons of the rewards of being still.

My dad was teaching me far more than learning how to fish for Bass. He was teaching me an art and a discipline.

As I reflect back upon my personal history this rainy morning, I see a repeated recurring theme.

Stillness gives great strength, perspective and peace of mind and soul.

“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

Thank you, dad, for introducing me to Jitterbug.

Karolyn Burch is married to Mark Burch, pastor of Maple Ridge Baptist.

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