Posted by: liturgicalyear | January 15, 2012

Holding Still & Turning our Lives toward the Presence: Lessons from Samuel and John

Ever wish you were Samuel, and God’s voice spoke more clearly to you?  I know I often cry out, when I’m not sure what God is calling me to do, Oh, if only I were Samuel! Then again, how many repeated calls might I miss, like Samuel, and dash off in the wrong direction? Eli guided Samuel to hold still the next time he heard the voice, and just say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (Samuel 3: 3-10)

As I reflect on today’s Old Testament passage, I realize, I’ve never uttered these wise words. I may thrash out in my fears and frustrations, God, just tell me what to do! But rare is the wise moment where I just hold still, and tell God I’m listening. In fact, my usual refrain, is: Lord, I don’t know what to do with all these burdens. Here they are; I place them at the foot of your cross. Please shine your light on all this mess.

I realize, with the help of Samuel’s example, and Eli’s wise words, that I vacillate between interrogatory prayer and giving up. Now, I’ve often thought “giving it all to God” was faithful, but I think I missed something in the extremes. God does not always give us a directive that gets through our layers of busyness and confusion quickly and clearly. But, he does not want us to give up, and he uses us to solve problems so we can grow in charity and wisdom. It all starts with holding still and listening.

Practicing stillness is challenging for me. I often wish I had six more hours to every day; then I’d be sure to get “it” all done.  I have little time for stillness, but I know I can make time for that, if I put a higher priority in this.

And have you ever found yourself frenetic, and you realize how much time you wasted, just in the fretting, and in the inefficient motions? If we can still ourselves, think clearly, and move more methodically, we actually accomplish more, without the stresses and strains we add with our anxieties and impatience.

Anne put a challenge to us this short season of Ordinary Time, to count our days – the real meaning of Ordinalis (ordinary) – well over these weeks preceding Lent. Here are my resolutions:

  • Prioritize stillness at the beginning of each day. In my prayers of thanks and praise, along with my long list of intercessions, I will just hold still and say: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
  • When I don’t know what to “do” I’ll resist the spiritual temptation to dump all at the foot of the cross. Instead, I’ll ask God to show me what I’m to do, and to show me what I’m to let Him handle.

Today’s Gospel (John 1 :35-42) relates a critical scene where John the Baptist turned to two of Jesus’ disciples and announced, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Like Eli guiding Samuel, so John guides the disciples to realize more fully what was right in their midst.

Thank God for all the guides who lead us to turn our ear heavenward, to turn our eyes toward the light, and to redirect our lives to The Presence.



  1. This was good, Thanks!

  2. I read this yesterday and this morning had a rare opportunity to sleep in and still wake up to a quite house. I took the time to be still and relax. I said the rosary and this time I looked at pictures of each of the mysteries to help me reflect on them better.(a suggestion from a priest) Anyway as I reflected I realized that Mary was still and let God do things in his own time. How often do I want my request filled in my time. From the announcement to the finding in the temple to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when he was 30, Mary just waited and had faith in how things would turn out. It is amazing what can happen when we are still, now I just need to figure out how to make “still time” a priority.

    • Ah, there’s the rub. When I’m struggling for still time, I’ll offer it up to help you. If you can pray for me with the same goal, maybe we can help each other!

      • Sounds good!

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