stillness – noun | \ˈstil-ˈnes\

: not moving
: lacking motion or activity


I spent last Wednesday through Saturday in a swirl of people, asking questions, giving answers, talking about ideas, and listening to other people’s dreams. In other words, there were a lot of words being volleyed back and forth at the Festival of Faith and Writing.

I went to the Festival with a list of people I wanted to have conversations with more than sessions I wanted to attend. And that’s exactly what happened. Of course I had the chance to hear Dani Shapiro and Tobias Wolff and Christian Wiman. My fingers were flying over the keyboard as I listened to Zadie Smith Friday evening, and I captured this bit of truth which I ams still processing: “The ultimate purpose in creativity and technology IS seamlessness. The creativity of artwork, in contrast, is something we never get used to. A true provocation. It forces you to be active in the face of it and always an individual.” I also heard panels on Surrendering Our Need for Status, Writing on Race, and Crafting Your Best Pitch.

Tom.vanHoogstraten.Stillness

But one of the messages I came away from over the weekend was fueled by a panel near the end of the festival called The Loud and the Quiet: Writing in the Age of Social Media. I didn’t take any notes. I just sat and listened, and what I heard was a call to stillness. Not silence or quiet. Not solitude or aloneness. Not rest or reflection. But the intersection of all of those. An inner quiet, a better choice, a rhythm of doing that allows for more being.

Part of this stillness means establishing more rituals to start and stop my day and my work. Another aspect involves stepping off the hamster wheel, putting an end to the churn of trying to keep up with or live up to or outdo what everyone else is doing. Mostly, I feel called to present to what’s going on in me and around me, to be aware and acknowledge what God is doing and be thankful.

It’s not lost on me that this call to stillness was followed hastily by a case of the flu which has left me planted firmly on the sofa. I’ve done a little work, watched a little TV, read a few articles and pages of books, but I’ve also leaned in to the lack of accomplishment these past few days. I had much to do, much to catch up on, but here I sat.

And I found a certain stillness in becoming okay with that.


What’s YOUR word of the week? Drop it into the comments section, or share it on this week’s Facebook post. If you post about your word on your blog, please slip the link into a comment below so I can stop by and join you.


Photo by Tom van Hoogstraten via Unsplash. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.