Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church

Pineridge Blog

Be Still, Still Be
by Jim Gordon | October 22, 2021


Be Still, Still Be

First, I simply want to say thanks, especially to Buzzy, but also to the Session and all who helped the church to be the church while I was away on Sabbatical. It was good to be away for many reasons, and it is good to be back. Thanks to all who have written reflections for this space in my absence. I have appreciated all your thoughtful words very much.

I began and ended my sabbatical by the river under a tree. The tree, which sits on the banks of the Missouri River, is a massive cottonwood that still bears the wound of a long ago lightning strike. Decades ago, a bolt of lightning ripped a gouge 30 feet high which widens to the base so that at least a quarter of the trunk is still missing. The heart of the tree is ex-posed and charred, but the bark over many years has grown around the edges of the wound. The hollowed out area is big enough to put a chair in. Which I have done dozens of times between June and now. The view from my chair is the perfect view of the river, but it is set back just far enough to enjoy the wildlife and the transition of seasons on the riverbank also.

As I began my Sabbatical, in June I felt drawn to the Missouri River, a spiritual presence which has meandered through my life. I didn’t really know why or for what reason, but I was also strongly drawn to the wounded tree. At first, I felt the tree was mirroring my own woundedness, by age, cancer and circumstance. However, holding still in the wound day after day just sitting for a couple of hours, watching the river flow, the buzzards circle in lazily, praying, and daydreaming I realized that it is a healing tree. It is continuing to heal itself from the lightning strike. Sitting in the heart of the tree I came to feel her strength around me. As I gently touched the bark which has smoothed over the edges of the deep wound, I felt the tenacious life of the tree. I realized the healing love of the tree the deep connection of the life in her and the life in me.

It was sitting in the tree one day in early August deep in meditation I heard the words in my mind, “Be still, still be.” “Be still and know that I am God,” writes the Psalmist. Be still and know. Be still. But then, “still be.” A simple call to life in this moment. As I return to the church I carry those words in my heart, “Be still, still be….”