I’ve never felt so refreshed. Momentarily, I have lived my favorite Italian proverb, “l’arte di non fare niente,” or “practicing the art of doing nothing.”
My day started hectically: An assignment was due, meetings were scheduled, and I needed to prepare for a retreat I was conducting.
At noon, I took a lunch break with the intention of returning to my work as quickly as possible. As I walked home from the restaurant on the mall near the U.S. Capitol in Washington the thought occurred, “Why not practice ‘l’arte di non fare niente,’ sit on a bench, forget all activities, and set no time limits.”
Gillian Anderson, an American actress, once wrote, “I have a real problem with stillness, with just stopping and being quiet.”
I concur! Guilt, urgency and restlessness conspired against me that day, giving me the judders. It was extremely difficult to stop with everything in me desiring to rush off.
Our accelerated age of hyperactivity has spawned countless books on ways to counter its damaging effects, making us wonder if this rushed, nonstop, torrid pace is one reason why so many celebrities die from drug overdoses. Were they searching for the peace of mind that stillness generates? Did they choose the wrong means for achieving it? And what might be the right means for accomplishing this desired stillness?
First, let’s identify the culprits depriving us of stillness. For example, are we on the Internet or texting nonstop? Are we glued to the news, not knowing when to stop, or do we have a problem saying “no”? Have these practices become an addiction? If so, admit the addiction. Humble admission is, and always has been, the first step to recovery.
Second, take the offensive. Kristin Armstrong, an Olympic gold medalist in cycling, points out, “When everything is moving and shifting, the only way to counteract chaos is stillness. When things feel extraordinary, strive for ordinary. When the surface is wavy, dive deeper for quieter waters.”
In other words, concede that you have a predicament, bite the bullet and move on.
Third, to achieve stillness, give it a supernatural context. This is something that Blessed Teresa of Kolkata said well by stating, “We cannot find God in noise or agitation. In nature we find silence — the trees, flowers and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon and the sun move in silence. … What is essential is not what we say but what God tells us and what he tells others through us. In silence he listens to us; in silence he speaks to our souls. In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to his voice.”
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103