Stand Still

Stand Still

June 25, 2019

“When you are confused, or lost, stand still. Be still.  When you are still and quiet you will eventually hear an inner message about what to do next, where to go. You won’t hear it until you are still.”  “Be quiet!” “Listen,” were the other two instructions. Jibril, my son who grew up in Senegal, shared this portion of his spiritual training.  He talked about the spiritual initiation he was fortunate enough to “endure” all those years ago in a far-away place.  What wonderful guidance for an eleven-year old boy deep an unknown forest who had to find his way.

John Wagoner’s poem, “Stand Still” came to mind.  It is one that has touched my daughter, Tania, and me for many years.  Funny, oceans apart we got the same valued message. Yet, one that this culture does not teach. In the West, we are told to navigate through this life by doing, problem solving, and thinking.  “Just DO Something” is too often the message.

I am so thankful for learning about Standing Still, whether in Africa or US.  It is a blessed, sacred and most helpful way to approach life when I don’t know what to do, when I am lost. If I am still and trust, inner wisdom speaks and gives me at least the first step to take.


 Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.David Wagoner

From the book “Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems

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