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The power of stillness

WHENEVER I hear someone say ''shut up!'' I recall the swiftness with which parental disapproval was shown to any child in our family using this expression. It was simply an inexcusable breach of the rules.

Despite its impropriety in most contexts, the idea can be used to our advantage. If we find ourselves being pushed around by doubt or fear, we might well take strong measures to calm thought. We may need to be really vehement with ourselves. Pussyfooting won't do the job. We can tell fearful thinking to ''shut up,'' and refuse to indulge in anger or self-pity. Having quieted fear, we can more readily open our thought to constructive ideas.

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It's important to realize, though, that it's not the human mind that quiets fear and heals, but the divine Mind, God. Human thinking may sometimes get caught up in confusion or indecision. But God, the true source of our thoughts and feelings, imparts only good. And we can feel His presence as we refute the impositions of evil and listen, in prayer, for His thoughts.

The Psalmist sang, ''Be still, and know that I am God.''n1 And the prophet Elijah, fearful for his life and for the success of his God-appointed mission, discerned God's presence, not in wind, earthquake, or fire, but in ''a still small voice.''n2

n1 Psalms 46:10.

n2 Kings 19:12.

Our family has long relied on God for help and healing.We've found that a listening attitude opens the way to improved conditions. When our daughter was small, and tears threatened where smiles had been the rule, we were able to help her solve problems by reminding her that God was right with her, but that she couldn't hear Him when she was crying.Adults can find themselves so busy with the minutiae of daily activity that moments of prayer, of quiet listening for God's healing thoughts, get farther and farther apart. Sometimes we cry inwardly, yearning for peace, security, health, or for just the freedom to stop the ''responsibility treadmill'' for a while. And no pill or exercise regimen, no amount of sleep or even vacation time, can permanently erase these demands for a better, more meaningful experience here and now.

But there is a way. Turning to God in quiet prayer, as Christ Jesus taught in his Sermon on the Mount,n3 can change the focus. Strong measures may be required to put out the limited, materialistic views we've had of a situation. Spiritual self-discipline may seem to take hard work, but it is a God-given ability, and everyone has it. We're all His offspring, and because this is the spiritual fact, we can call upon our God-derived capabilities and intelligence.

n3 See Matthew 6:6.

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God, the divine Mind, is our constant resource. There is never a moment when His tender care is unavailable. With this omnipresent good at hand, there is no need to blunder on blindly through days or years of limited joy or restricted expectations.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in one of her poems: I will listen for Thy voice, Lest my footsteps stray; I will follow and rejoice All the rugged way.n4

n4 Poems, p. 14.

Whatever our station in life, our days will be increasingly joy-filled as they are lived in humble obedience to God's voice. And we can begin listening through prayer at any moment. No special privilege or education is needed. Right now anyone can experience the benefits of stillness.

As we trust more in the reality and presence of God's love for His children, and less in what our eyes and ears tell us is true, we can move on into our life's work with expectation and joy. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel;. . . in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. . . . And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:15, 21

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