It is not often that we who call the plains states home do not have wind. It is a given, a constant, seemingly more certain even than the proverbial death and taxes. Its presence dictates our weather, directs our days, pumps our water, generates our electricity, drives the winter cold deeper, fans the heat of summer, pushes the thunderheads higher as they build and march across the prairie, exacerbates a drought.
Sunday morning, I hustled to do the last of my chores preparatory to departing for church. I was hoping to arrive on time, as I was the organist expected to play for the service. One last water tank needed checking, and I slip-slid over the hill on the patches of ice and packed snow to take a look. I paused just long enough to see that the tank still held water, and then, as I turned to go back to the house, I realized that everything was still.
Completely and utterly still.
There are times when the wind is not blowing so hard. Days when ten to fifteen miles per hour is a blessed relief after thirty-five gusting to fifty-six, when we meet neighbors in town and comment to each other that “at least the wind hasn’t been blowing.” But an actual moment when the wind is truly not blowing is rare indeed.
Sunday morning, the wind was actually still. There was not a breath on my cheeks, not even the slightest stirring in the grass. I stood, transfixed, taking it in.
Like the wind, I am not often still. My mind is generally racing from one ‘to-do’ list to the next, figuring out which bills need to be paid next and which cows need to be fed next, calculating how long the oats will last before I need to make another trip to town for feed, juggling school work and house work and bookwork, my brain working overtime just trying to keep up with all the myriad facets of life. My body tries to keep pace, moving from one task to the next, to the next.
I thought of this as I stood stock still in the quiet. And I forced myself to just be right there, to be still in the moment. I looked across the undulating hills, the lines of their curves accentuated by the snowbanks left from the December blizzards, the dry, golden grass frosty and sparkling in the morning sun. I listened, and it was truly quiet. No birds singing, nor dogs barking, no sound of a vehicle passing on the highway, not even a coyote howling. I felt the stillness of the frozen earth beneath my feet, patiently waiting for spring warmth to return.
I am not good at stillness. But in those few minutes, I tried. I tried to just be there. I tried to quiet my mind and my heart to match the perfect quiet of the earth and sky. And then I headed back to the house.
I am trying to find more moments like that, moments when I can just be still. Choosing to sit with my cup of tea instead of rushing about and missing that perfect point where the liquid is not too hot and not lukewarm or cold. Choosing to spend a few minutes petting the horses before I move them out of the pen. Choosing to look into my children’s eyes and smile, to pause to give them a hug.
Hamlet may have questioned whether ‘to be or not to be.’ For me, there is no question. To be, to be present, to be alive, to watch the sun rise and set and fill the moments in between, wind or no wind, is a gift. And being still helps me to treasure life for the gift that it is.