New to Stillness (pt. 2)

The fifth line of St. Romuald’s Brief Rule reads, “If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, then take every opportunity to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind.”

My translation of the second part of line 5 reads, “…then take every opportunity to return to the Psalms; like good seeds in fertile soil plant them in your heart and mind.”

Last summer we had new sod planted in our backyard. The landscaping company came in, killed all the grass and weeds, scraped all the dead stuff off, brought in some dirt, and then ‘installed’ the new sod. In one day we have an instant, beautiful backyard – for a while. Slowly, the sod started to die. And not just some of it, all of it. So, not wanting to repeat that mistake, I decided to seed the yard by hand. Grass seed and then peat moss to cover – a thousand trips one handful at a time. After doing the whole yard four times, we had grass again. I was astonished to realize how much seed we had used.

If you want a lush backyard, you don’t plant a single seed and hope for the best. You spread seeds everywhere, cover them, water them, and wait. And then next week you do the same. Allowing the Psalms to grow within and to change how we understand ourselves, our God, and our place in and relationship to the world takes time, patience, and a willingness to ‘get our hands dirty’ actually reading the Psalms and allowing them to grow within our hearts and minds. After the effort of seeding, the growth is up to nature and God. And the joyful part is walking out and seeing thousands of small shoots of grass sticking up through the peat moss. If we stick to the Psalms, we will one day see the shoots of wisdom poking through our words and actions.

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