“Can I stay still? How still? It is astonishing how many people cannot, or will not, hold still. I could not, or would not, hold still for thirty minutes inside, but at the creek I slow down, center down, empty. I am not excited; my breathing is slow and regular. In my brain I am not saying, Muskrat! Muskrat! There! I am saying nothing. If I must hold a position, I do not ‘freeze.’ If I freeze, locking my muscles, I will tire and break. Instead of going rigid, I go calm. I center down wherever I am; I find a balance and repose. I retreat — not inside myself, but outside myself, so that I am a tissue of sense. Whatever I see is plenty, abundance. I am the skin of water the wind plays over; I am petal, feather, stone.” ~ Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (pg 200-201)
You know how when you’re conscious of something, you start to notice it everywhere? It happened while reading yesterday, when I came across this passage in the middle of a chapter about stalking muskrats. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is turning out to be a fitting companion to Lent.
Perhaps this is a little bit what elusive stillness looks like.
(the picture is a muskrat, by the way. I had no idea what they actually looked like until now.)