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I come from a family of doers.

If I have a problem, I want to quickly figure out what needs to be done and do it. Do not tell me to be patient, to wait and see. I want to do something. It is what I learned from my father.

Many a time I heard him say, “Don’t just stand there, John, do something.” There is no time to be standing around on the farm. There is work to be done.

So I became a doer, until by over doing and suffering the consequent stresses, stomach disorders, sleeplessness, anxiety and the spiritual diseases that so many of us “gett’er done” Americans know all too well, I happened upon another way in the writings of Thomas Moore, a way I wanted to resist with every fiber of my doing being.

“Care of the soul often means getting out of the way rather than doing something,” Moore says.

Spiritual and physical health requires “some degree of acquiescence and searching for extra help,” I thought to myself.

“I pray, I ask God for help.”

And then I realized that my most frequent prayer is, “God, please tell me what to do,” which means, “God, let me do something, I can’t just stand here.”

Then I remembered the words of the psalmist, “Be still and know that I am God,” and I recalled something that the great German mystic, Meister Eckart wrote over seven hundred years ago: “Relationship with God, comes not through study, or religious practice, but through detachment, or letting be.”

Paul McCartney and John Lennon got it right in their classic Beatles hit: “And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me... I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me, Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…”

Marjorie Thompson tells in her book, “Soul Feast,” about a woman who had a profound “let it be” experience: “In a time of solitude, she heard a very clear voice that seemed startlingly more real than any human voice.

The voice said, ‘You are my beloved child; walk with me, and you will heal my people.’ She felt flooded with a sense of well-being and peace and was powerfully moved to serve God.”

Thompson also told of a pastor who returned from a visit to a monastery and confessed to his son that he did not understand how the monks could sit for hours in the chapel before the reserved host (consecrated bread that represents the presence of Christ).

His son, whose wife had just given birth to their first child, responded, “You know Dad, I think I understand. Since our newborn arrived, I just go to her crib and look at her. She doesn’t even have to be awake. I am so utterly fascinated that I don’t know where the time goes.”

“Let it be.”

Don’t just do something, stand there…

John Sumwalt is a retired pastor and the author of “Shining Moments: Visions of the Holy in Ordinary Lives.” He can be reached at johnsumwalt@gmail.com.

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