It takes time for the water to settle. Coming to interior stillness requires waiting. Any attempt to hasten the process only stirs up the water anew.
So writes Brennan Manning in ‘Abba’s Child’. I find this image of water in a jar so helpful as a picture of the soul. Once the water has been shaken up in the jar, it takes times for the disturbances, the ripples, to subside. Complete stillness really does take time and is progressive. It can’t be hurried. There is no handy technology to remove the need to wait; nothing works to calm that water but a firm place on which to stand the jar and the passing of time.
How like this is my soul! Nothing works to calm me like silence and solitude in the context of a relationship with the God who is a firm place for my feet. And when I try to get to that place of calm and centredness without paying the price of time and the absence of striving, it will not work.
With almost everything else in my life I can grasp control by implementing efficiency measures – to get more done in less time – but I cannot control time. Time is not subject to my grasping to control it. It will pass at exactly the speed that time usually passes. No faster, no slower. It doesn’t matter what I do. If it is going to take a day of solitude, a week, a month even, before I reach that state where the water settles, then that is how long it will take. There is nothing I can do about that but wait. I have to relinquish all sense of control, of being able to get myself to that place sooner, because the reality is that ‘it takes time for the water to settle’.
Does the water in your life need to settle? What are the practices which could help you to slow down, to be still enough for the ripples and disturbances to peter out and eventually cease?