On Stillness

The Sneeze

I sat down in my big, over-stuffed chair.  I lit two candles: one on the mini-altar across from the chair, and the other on the little table by my hand where I keep my books for prayer time.

I set the countdown timer: 20 minutes.

I closed my eyes.

I began immediately to feel that sensation that a part of my insides was melting, and part of me was starting to drip.

Down.  Down.  Down.

Deeper into contemplation.

I was reaching for that experience of complete stillness.

And then it happened.

The sneeze.

In the quiet of my mind, it was a literal explosion.

And I imagined a sort of forest fire taking place inside me.

Deer leaping over downed tree.

Small rodents scurrying.

Will they have the time they need to escape?

All of a sudden my whole body was astir.

I wanted to put my food down, to insist that order be restored immediately.

But the chaos ruled.

And I was no longer in charge.

So my meditation became a study.  A study of an explosion in perfect silence.

The birth of a star, perhaps.

The blowing of dandelion seeds on the wind.

As we try to go in, we burst out into the world.

Perhaps that is what stillness is meant for: that instant—that pause—before the switch is flipped—the trigger is pulled.

The standing still before the race begins.

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