Being Still

I often carry my camera when we hike—for one, it gives me reason to stop and catch my breath more often!  Having my camera also gives me a tangible way to capture and cherish the precious moments.  This summer on a hike up Marmot Pass, near Seattle, I had my large camera lens along and I was looking for tiny moments to capture and magnify.

On the hike down, I spotted an opportunity and got to work stabilizing the large camera lens by bracing my arm on my leg in a squatted position, intently focusing on the bees that were on the flower you see pictured. As I was solely paying attention to the flower, waiting for just the right shot of the bees, I felt a small cool spot on my right arm. It felt as if there was a tiny electric fan, blowing a cool breeze about the size of a dime. Out of curiosity, I glanced to the right and saw that it was a bee hovering just above my arm.

I was not afraid of the bee, knowing it had many more enticing subjects around (like the nectar of the flower I was photographing), however it was truly a stunning moment for me of being aware, of noticing and paying attention and feeling that bee hover.  Upon further research, I found out it wasn’t a bee at all, but a hoverfly.  A hoverfly is black and yellow like a bee thus affording it camouflage and protection from predators.  Hoverflies actually have the most flexible wings out of any flying insect, they twist their wings 45 degrees over 300 times every second. Impressive, right?! I know had I not been truly focused and absolutely still, I would have never experienced the beauty of a moment in the hoverfly world.  I desire more of those moments—of capturing the little things in life, of understanding that a bee doesn’t hover, but a hoverfly sure does and of being still and absorbing the beauty of the outdoors in new ways. 

In these months we probably aren’t spending as much time outside but I’m sure many of us still need and have a deep desire to slow down and capture the precious moments during this busy time of year.  For me transforming the inevitable snowfall from a hassle to a moment of wonder can make all the difference. Whatever your age—whether you are with a child or age 92—I challenge you to stick out your tongue at least once this winter and “catch” a snowflake.  You can even take it a step further by keeping a black piece of construction paper in the freezer with a magnifying glass nearby. When it begins to snow “catch” a snowflake on the frozen paper and examine the beauty and magnificence of each individual flake. This simple activity can even become a beautiful time of reflective, contemplative prayer and praise for each of us individually as we slow down and embrace the beauty of a single snowflake.

As you gaze upon this beautiful trail scene at Walnut Woods, what might you be invited to? Where could you find a place to slow down and be still? Where can you find peace?


Peace is the pervasive sense of contentment
that comes from being rooted in God while
being fully aware of one’s own nothingness.
It is a state that endures beyond the ups and downs of life,
beyond the emotions of joy and sorrow.
At the deepest level one knows that all is well,
that everything is just right
despite all appearance to the contrary.

—Thomas Keating


Peace be with you.

—John 20: 26 


Peace be within you. 

—Psalm 122:8