Stillness

I find there is nothing that drives away dark thoughts as much as Sunday morning, especially when it follows a night of strange and troubled dreams after a week of increasing tensions at work in a school year that seems never-ending. As I wake, pondering the attrition of humanity in general with a hymn-line playing in my head, Change and decay in all around I see, unable to tell if I am feeling heartsick, soul-sick, or just plain sick, the Sunday stillness settles my spirit. My stomach, on the other hand, needs more time…not sure if I will make it to church or not. A riotous melody from the front porch works like a tonic: a finch fantasia. The mohawk-headed babies that hatched in my door wreath should have flown on by now. I am glad they linger. I need these bright notes. I wish I could interpret them and know exactly what the finches are saying to one another… if they were not here, the silence would be so loud. There is a time for silence and it is not now. It is not the same as stillness. Sunday brings stillness, the finch song brings stillness, the wall clock with whirring crystals brings stillness. I am craving prolonged stillness, I am so tired, but I make myself go.

And if I had not done so, I would have missed it.

Backing out of the garage, closing the door, turning down the driveway… there.

Across the street, lying on the grass in front of a tangled green thicket, a large white cat, so still it seemed an alabaster statue. It didn’t move as I approached. It gazed at me as if it belonged in that very spot (I have never seen it before).

Sphinx-like. Pristine. Regal. Otherworldly. Breathtaking. I think I whispered the word Amazing.

I could have stayed and stared, I think, forever.

But, without movement of any kind, the white cat reminded me that stillness isn’t an untroubling; it is, instead, a submerging, away from surface-level fear, a shaking off, a resting place, a deep abiding.

Which paradoxically involves moving on.

I feel certain it winked at me as I did so.

Curiosity drove me to look it up: Pure white cats are rare, 5% or less of the population.
It didn’t seem to mind my taking its picture.

*******

special thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the weekly Slice of Life Story Challenge

10 thoughts on “Stillness

  1. Oh my goodness, Fran. That cat looks other-worldly. I think you’ve had a visitor from another realm, sending you a message of peace. You create that, you know, in this world of chaos – your writing is, for many of us, a place of reassurance that stillness, pause, reflection…..AWE…..are divine comforts. I never realized until a few years ago that most white cats are deaf. My husband grew up with one, and his mother was telling a story about a white cat when she paused and added, “the cat was deaf, of course…” and I asked why she’d said “of course,” as if there were a piece I had missed. She told me of white cat deafness, and I think there is a piece to this story about the silence and stillness that is further symbolic that the cat was, quite likely, living in a world of silence.

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    • The cat was so big, pure white, just stunning – awe is definitely the word for what I felt. I hesitated even to drive down the driveway for fear of startling it, but it stayed right there in that calm and regal pose. I thought about the deafness of white cats… you’re so right that there could be more symbolism to unpack here, from a deeper and higher realm. Thank you for your beautiful words, Kim!

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  2. Fran, as I struggle to find a spiritual rightness, a stillness, your writing carries me there with you, with the loud fanfare of finches and the silent spirit of the white cat. I have been seeing cardinals every day since my father died, but maybe that’s because it’s cardinal nesting season. Do we make these things up?

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    • Fanfare of finches – so lyrical, Margaret. As to the cardinals, so symbolic of the nearness of a loved one lost… sure it’s nesting season, meaning an abundance of cardinals, but that can’t diminish their fiery redness which brightens even the darkest moments, clearly representing the hand of God at work. On Easter Sunday, 2020, during the onset of COVID lockdowns when churches had closed, my husband and I rode to our church so I could record his sermon for the congregation. High on the steeple perched a red cardinal, singing for all it was worth… we do not make these things up.

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  3. “… the white cat reminded me that stillness isn’t an untroubling; it is, instead, a submerging, away from surface-level fear, a shaking off, a resting place, a deep abiding.

    Which paradoxically involves moving on.”

    Fran, I love stopping by for your wise words. Abide was my one little word for one year. It felt like a quiet word, but a still word is a better description. And now you tell me that stillness involves moving on.
    More about this in a future post.

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    • I can’t wait to see where this takes you, Ramona! It is sometimes hard to put sensations or perceptions into words… the sense of ‘abide’ and stillness are intertwined for me, yet I know there’s also a fluidity in it. Not stillness like a rock, for example, but living, breathing, growing, flourishing…and overcoming. We can abide and be still at the same time we move on in trust. Thank you for this reflection.

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  4. Fran, I agree w/ Kim: The cat is gorgeous, and it reminds me of the Egyptian attitude about cats. I had a student who gave a speech on this a few years ago. I suspect the exhaustion you feel is more common this year among teachers. As the year closes, take a lot of vitamin C to ward off those pesky colds that set i. w/ the end of the year release. Reading your post makes me think of the melancholic personality Susan Cain celebrates in her gorgeous new book “Bittersweet.” The weightiness of the world and the pressure to be sanguine all the time necessitates communing e/ nature, so I’m glad the finches are there for you.

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    • The cat – so large, so starkly white against the greenery – was stunning, and for one fraction of a second, unnerving, before awe took over. I’d have loved to hear your student’s speech on the Egyptian attitude about cats. This cat’s regal bearing certainly brought that history to mind. Please know how much I appreciate your insights and caring words, Glenda, from the vitamin C to the “pressure to be sanguine all the time” – what a fabulous phrase! I will need to check out Cain’s book. Thank you ❤

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    • PS – Glenda, I read your post on TWT but cannot access the comment section – please know it resonates on a number of levels, not the least of which is the power of the pen.

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