Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Be Still ... and Know ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Be Still ... and Know ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

"Are you busy, ubabaMkhulu?" they ask, using the Zulu word for grandfather. I look up. "We have something for you."

Never too busy for a surprise, I wave Joyce and Doris into the study where I'm working at the computer. Diffident, yet purposeful, they shuffle forward. Their smiles are as warm as the summer sunlight that floods the room. Their shyness, totally disarming.

I rise to greet the two women. We shake hands the African way. Full hand. Thumbs entwined. Full hand. No further word is spoken. A crested barbet in the frangipani tree just outside the window breaks the silence, but Joyce and Doris don't seem to notice. They clasp their hands in front of them and start to sing in Zulu, taking parts. Their voices are light and sweet. Joyce's eyes are closed. Doris's gaze settles on the upper branches of the frangipani.

It's a hymn tune I know well. I recognize the Zulu word for Father, uBaba, which comes up several times in the first verse. Could it be the opening to Psalm 46 in the Bible, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble"?

Joyce delights in my gleam of recognition, as though eager for approval. She steps up the tempo, and they both start to sway - gently, evenly. Then they break into English, articulating every word: "Be still ... and know ... that I'm ... your God." They steal glances my way. They repeat the line, once, twice, three times. And I notice their slight deviation from the King James Version's "I am God." Yet, for me, it works both ways.

I recall how the Amplified Bible enriches the lines they've sung: "God is ... mighty and impenetrable to temptation, a very present and well-proved help in trouble." I also welcome this fresh light on verse 10 of Psalm 46: "Let be and be still, and know - recognize and understand - that I am God."

When their heartfelt rendering of the hymn comes to an end, I applaud quietly, and we talk for a while. We swap stories about the part God has played in our lives, and what we're learning about the importance of stillness. …

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