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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Be still and know

© Another Day in the Country

One of my favorite Bible verses that has served me well all of my life is “Be still and know that I am God.”

It’s a good reminder, to me, to relish stillness.

I’m a doer, and stillness does not come naturally. I come from a long line of energetic, busy people, who’ve taken great pride in getting things done. Stillness was not considered a virtue when I was a child.

Work was a virtue. A difficult task accomplished was a virtue.

If you were still too long, Mom would find another job for you to do. So, I had to cultivate stillness as an adult.

Right about now, as a community — as a nation — we are asked to be still, to stop, take a deep breath, stay home. That’s difficult for me to do, even though I’m over 65.

This morning, for instance, I’d usually get in my car after breakfast and head to Abilene to exercise and meet friends for coffee.

“I think you should stay home,” my sister said. “I’m not going.”

“And if you insist on going here’s a mask for you to wear,” she said after a pause.

I thanked her but I didn’t say I’d stay home.

“We’re staying home for a while,” my friend texted. “So sorry to miss seeing you.”

I hesitated but got ready anyhow, ate my breakfast, grabbed the mask and jumped in the car.

Ramona was very quiet. I drove slowly down Main St., listening to the news.

“The governor is considering a 30-day stay-at-home measure and closure…”

I drove slower.

“… of non-essential businesses.”

I stopped, turned around at the railroad tracks and came back home.

“Now what,” I asked myself.

Exercising at home — other than working in the yard and cleaning house — is very difficult for me. I have all kinds of excuses as to why none of it works.

And then I saw the walking stick that I’d made with the kids at school in art class a couple of years ago.

“C’mon, Stick, let’s go for a walk,” I said, and headed out the door.

In spite of the rain that came in the night, the weather was mild. Fog softened the landscape. Everything was quiet. I decided to walk out to the cemetery and visit Mom and Dad.

After the two of them were buried out there, my sister got solar lights to put on each side of their headstones. When we drive home from running errands in Salina, it’s often dark, and as we drive past the cemetery we look over to see if their lights are on.

“Yeah, their lights are on,” we’ll grin and say. “They’re home.”

Lewis Cemetery is only half a mile out of town. I’ve walked this road many times before — usually on Memorial Day.

On this particular day in March, it was very still. One of the little boys in town was out on his bicycle, pedaling in circles, wanting someone to talk to.

“Is that a horse on your stick,” he wanted to know. 

“It’s a giraffe,” I told him. “One of my favorite animals!”

He pedaled beside me for a half a block or so and then turned back toward home.

As I walked out of town I could hear Meadowlark trilling, their song warbling in the fog. Then a red-winged black bird called, piercing the air, announcing his turf. The frogs were calling from the temporary ponds made by run-off from recent rains.

And then there was stillness, not a sound that I could hear.

My hearing is not as acute as it used to be, so I strained into the quiet atmosphere.

There was the sound of Birkenstocks on pavement, the click of the stick, but when I stopped, there was stillness.

When I got out to my parents’ tombstone, I sat down on it for a while and looked out toward Ramona. From this distance, the town does not seem to have changed in 80 years.

There’s what used to be Grandma and Grandpa Schubert’s house with its familiar roofline to my left. I can see Aunt Bertha’s little house and Connie’s house. On my right, of course, there was a train on the tracks as I turned the corner, but it’s gone.

Now, there was just stillness.

“Thanks for teaching us about taking care of our health, Mom,” I said in my imagination. “And all that caution about germs. And thanks Dad for warning us to always be prepared with plenty of toilet paper.”

I am somehow comforted by this tombstone sitting in the midst of other relatives — Aunt Erna and Uncle Dick beside them, Aunt Naomi and Uncle Kenneth two doors down. Across the street are Grandma and Grandpa Schubert, Uncle Hank and Aunt Gertie, Aunt Clara and Uncle John. The Heisers are right down the lane, like they’d been in real life.

Someday I’ll be here, too, in stillness.

An hour later, I was back home, sitting here at my computer, feeling refreshed and blessed to be spending another day in the country, still.

Last modified April 1, 2020

 

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