The muddiest water clears as it is stilled. And out of that stillness life arises
Each fall as the air is filled with fresh smells, crisp, clean air, and brilliant colors that no artist could ever replicate, my thinking becomes clear and I experience a settled peace that no other season brings. Nostalgia sets in. The past I recall are the marching days of band. Dressed in uniform, eye steady on the drum major, instrument held ready to bring to mouth, I was ready to perform and take part of a larger purpose. We were crisp in our moves, timely in our steps, and clear in executing our notes. When we were done, we knew we had succeeded in providing the entertainment to revved up fans seeking something to fill in the wait of half-time during football season.
Marching bands do not step out onto the field without having spent multiple hours practicing. Our band director, equipped with clipboard and megaphone, choreographed our steps and choose our tunes. We followed his direction as if life was dependent on our absolute obedience. The most demanding moments came when, listening to the drum cadence, we had to march in place.
Marching in place often meant we had fallen out of formation, missed a note, or that the band director simply needed time to regroup and rethink the direction and intention of his destiny for us. Sometimes there would be confusion, but marching in place offered a respite during the hot days of practice and allowed us to catch our breath and think. Marching in place was also better than when we were asked to stop marching, because it was hard to regain our momentum and recapture the rhythm collectively we had marched in sync with once we stopped.
Today, I need the life lessons that marching in place taught me. First, marching in place allows time to process direction and intent. Life's busyness often propels us forward, but being propelled forward does not equate with direction created for meaningful purpose. Second, marching in place allows you to mark time and be ready for when forward motion is necessary. Third, marching in place provides respite from a life marked by heavy demands and multiple voices crying out for help and direction.
Often times marching in place can feel stagnant, but there are life notes to be heard in the "stillness" of marching in place. Marching in place means we have time to think, time to dream, time to recreate, so that when we do move forward there is beauty and intent to our steps. Marching in place allows us to breathe so that when we play our "life notes" they are played in tune and on time. People need the beauty of a life lived well and marching in place is where muddy waters clear and life arises. This year, spend time marching in place and enjoy the clarity that this practice can bring.
Father, I am willing to march in place. Provide clarity and direction as I listen for your direction. Help me keep my rhythm in stillness so that I am ready to move forward at your beckoning. Let my life be beauty and inspiration for those watching me march for you.