If you walk out into the middle of the woods and stand very still for a while, a very delightful thing will happen.
The forest will slowly come alive around you. You may have thought it was alive before that, but the truth is, you haven’t actually experienced the half of it.
First, you will become more distinctly aware of the sounds of the more extroverted creatures of the woods. A woodpecker beating sharp staccato, the twittering of newly-returned robins, the distant honking of geese.
But keep waiting, because there is more to come.
After a few minutes, a grouse will drum on a nearby log. A stick will crack in the woods, then another, as the cautious deer who froze at the sound of your footsteps decides it’s safe to move on. And then will begin the rustling in the leaves, and you will realize that it is not the breeze at play, but squirrels and mice and tiny birds.
As your ears become more attuned, your eyes will also become more aware of details.
You’ll realize that there’s delicate frost from a chilly spring morning lacing the strawberry leaf by your feet that you very nearly trampled. You’ll note a tiny clump of British soldier lichen clinging to the edge of a mossy stump that would have only registered “green” in hurried passing.You’ll tip your head up and see the beginning of the swelling red of the maple buds overhead, fanned against the sky.You’ll notice the delicate lacy veins of last year’s leaves, splendidly illuminated in the morning sunlight, and also the way a certain flap of simple birch bark is catching the sun just right to make it glow.Your eyes will follow the slant of a fallen log down to a hole and, well, look! The very culprit of the rustling himself appears.There is no shortcut to the gifts that come from being still, but they are always incredibly, beautifully worth it. And, incidentally? The same is said for the soul and the best gift one could ever ask for.
“Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD.” (Exodus 14:13)
No doing. No striving. Just simple, trusting, expectant stillness.