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Stop! More than be Still

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Stop! More than be Still

On Gary's Faith Walk, it's time to turn off the television

“Stop!”… more than “Be still” 

Okay, I admit it! I’m a news junkie. My daily addiction embarrasses me as I list it. Online: BBC World News, the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Moscow Times (Russia). Television: Euronews, Today (Russia), and the PBS News Hour. Radio: National Public Radio. Print: the Spokesman Review and the Bonner County Daily Bee. 

So, is it any wonder that the end of the Republican presidential primary process has left me feeling battered? All that anger, all those charges and counter charge—all that puffery. But wait, I let it in. By choice, I read, or watched, or listened. And that was just the preliminary round! Now we move into six more months of super charged rhetoric and hyperbole before the election on November 6th.

When I analyze my addiction, I discover my need to orient myself, to affirm my relevance in the world, this nation, and my community. Staying up on the news allows me to take my bearings relative to the swirl of life around me. It serves rather like a gyroscope, a way to maintain my orientation.

Yet knowing that I have “overdone it” lately in the news department, I’ve sought reflection in scripture.  “Be still, and know that I am God,” rings out from within Psalm 46. Ah, to quiet oneself, to reduce the volume of the surrounding sound, to, well, to be still. 

But, in this part of my Faith Walk, a deeper examination of the text seemed essential. Turns out that the “be still” we read in so many of our bibles is actually a rather poor translation of the Hebrew word “rapa.’ The psalmist’s intent was to convey the much more emphatic “Stop!” or “Attention!” “Stop and know that I am God.” This is certainly more direct, more grabbing than “be still.”

Even living amidst the mountains and endless forests of our North Country, I let myself get caught up in events. The forever war in Afghanistan, Israeli-Palestinian jockeying, Russian human rights abuses, Chinese oppression of Tibetans, the antics of the current Congress, challenges to conserving the environment in this part of the West, and so much more. That’s a lot to “stop” in order to “know” God.

But, perhaps, that is the take away message from my overdosing on Republican presidential primary news. It seems I’ve been shown a path forward through this summer, this year, and into the future. Stop the mental clutter. Stop the overdosing on the repeated stories via the Internet, TV, radio, and newspapers. “Stop and know that I am God,” the Psalmist wrote.

For me, the knowing is a richly layered revelation. Reading the Word, seeking out wisdom literature, loving and being loved within my family, opening myself to seeing the image of God in the faces of people around me, watching with awe the unfolding of spring in lupine blossoms and birds nesting and white tails nibbling fresh buds.

If I am brave enough to stop, the months ahead will return to me great joy. The tumult of the recent news cycle will recede, and my knowing the Divine will bring great peace even as the events of the world continue to unfold. Try it with me! We both may like it. I’ll start by powering down my lapto…

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Gary Payton Gary Payton is on a Faith Walk that takes him to Russia, Eastern Europe and Sandpoint, Idaho

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addiction, news, overdoing, contemplation, Gary's Faith Walk

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