Be. To be is to exist. To exist is to be in motion. There is nothing that is that does not move. The Poet Dean Young put it this way: “To always be in motion there is no choice/ even for the mountain and its frigid/ cousins floating on the oceans that even sluggish/ seethe and moan and laugh out loud at their own/ jokes. How "like the human heart" can be said of/ pert near everything, pint of fizz, punching/ bag because all moves: the mouse, the house, the pelt of moon corresponding to the seas/ (see above) (now get back here)” (From As Easy as Falling Down Stairs). Indeed all moves. The universe itself, we are told, is always moving, ever expanding. Measurements from the Hubble Telescope estimate that our universe is expanding at the speed of about 46.2 miles per second per megaparsec (a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years.) If that seems a little technical, rest assured, it is quite fast. The fixed points of stars, being gaseous, are also constantly in flux, in motion. Light itself moves in measurable speeds. Let us, however, ignore the inherent motion of the universe. Let us ignore the fact that our galaxy is rotating at 492,125 mph, or that our sun is orbiting around our galaxy at five hundred fifty nine thousand two hundred and thirty four miles per hour. That the mass of rock and water that we call home is hurtling through space at an average of sixtyseventhousandonehundredandeightmilesperhour, all the while rotating on its axis at a breathtaking speed. Let us ignore that the continents we stand on are inching their way across the face of the ever moving globe, and still it is impossible to escape the perpetual motion of existence. With every breath we take, our lungs expand and retract. Our heart is constantly pumping blood through our veins. There is the immeasurable motion of thoughts coursing through the mind. Neurons firing, eyes blinking. Cellular mitosis. To be is to exist. To exist is to be in motion. So be:
Still. Defined: Not moving. Old English speakers took the word still from the same German word that they used to get the word stall, as in cattle stall. The original German root word (stel) literally means fixed, not moving. Stall is also used to mean delay, or to keep from action, motion. If life is motion, then stillness is death. We understand this, thus the term ‘a stillborn child.’ There is a reason why the phrases ‘the still of the night’ and the ‘the dead of the night’ are interchangeable. Emily Dickinson reinforces the relationship between stillness and death with the words: “I heard a fly buzz when I died/ The stillness round my form/ Was like the stillness in the air/ Between the heaves of storm.” It is indeed in death alone that the body ceases to move. The lungs cease their labor, the heart is at rest, the blood ceases its veiny race, and the body rests in peace. And yet, does Christ not call us to come and die? Romans six reminds us that we have died with Christ. It is only in this death that we find rest. Peace. Stillness.
And Know. Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible is a dramatic retelling of the Salem witch trials. In one of my favorite moments of the drama, the main character, John Proctor, is attempting to undermine and discredit the testimony of Abigail, who is hurling accusations of witchcraft against people in the town. Desperate to prove that Abigail is anything but innocent, he shouts out in the court, (as a condemnation of both her and himself), “I have known her!” When reading through this portion in my high school English class, my fellow students laughed. In their minds it was if he had shouted, “We had coffee once!” They were not thinking of ‘to know’as what is often called the ‘biblical’ sense. Knowledge implies intimacy. Scholars often refer to the great men of their studies by their first names. I had a music professor who referred to Beethoven as Uncle Ludwig. To know something is not simply to be aware of it. Not simply to have a shallow understanding. It is more than being acquainted. It is to be intimately familiar with the ins and outs, the nuances, and intricate facets of a topic/person/idea.
I Am. My grandfather used to tell of his conception of God before he was a Christian. It seemed absurd to him that there was a being who had no beginning. He thought that God surely had to have a father or a creator, just like everyone else. However, upon reflection, he realized that such a figure themselves would have to have been begotten by another, who required another origin. He was faced with acknowledging either an eternal line of begetters, or one eternal, self-existent One. Even secular science considers matter to be a self existing constant: something that always has been, and always will be; something that did not have a beginning, and does not have a foreseeable end. There was a man herding sheep in an ancient desert. The sheep were plodding through the hot dry sand, winding through large rock formations, searching out what vegetation they could find. The dirty, sweat-drenched shepherd caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of his eye. A fire blazing in a bush, and yet, as he approached, Moses noticed that the bush was not consumed. If a burning-yet-not-consumed bush had not been strange enough, Moses was undoubtedly shocked when a voice proceeded from it. After receiving the command to deliver God’s people from Egypt, Moses replied, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses,” I Am, Who I Am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, “I Am has sent me to you.’” I am who I am. What a name. The self-existent one. He is the constant eternal God. The hymn writer Frederick Faber declares it this way: “Thou wert not born; there was no fount/ From which Thy Being flowed/ There is no end which Thou canst reach/ But Thou art simply:
God. Immutable. Unchangeable. Absolute. Unassailable. Wise. Kind. Love. Omniscient. Holy. Eternal. Impassable. Infinite. All-powerful. Self-existent. Self-sufficient. Good. Gracious. Merciful. Just. Indefinable. Sovereign. God. Imminent. Impeccable. Missional. Three. Incomparable. One. Providential Righteous Veracious God Transcendent Majestic Faithful Truth Wrath Jealous Divine Perfection Invincible Supreme Ultimate Alpha Omega BeginningEndCompassionPowerPeacePatienceBlessedBeautifulOrderlyKnowableIndescribableInexpressableUnutterableMarvelousHolyGreatBoundlessUnrestricted BlamelessIrreprochablePrevailingFairIndescribableEndlessUnlimitedGodunfathomableglorylimitlessceaselessfaultlessandbeholdtheLordwaspassingbyandagreatandstrongwindwas rendingthemountainsandbreakinginpiecestherocksbeforetheLordbuttheLordwasnotinthewindandafterthewindanearthquakebuttheLordwasnotintheearthquakeaftertheearthquakeafirebuttheLordwasnotinthefireandafterthefireasoundofagentleblowingwind.