Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings National

Having, Being and Stillness

Dec 01, 2008 03:04PM ● By Father Paul Keenan

I have a friend whose spiritual practice relies heavily on affirmations. I ran into him the other day, and he was completely beside himself with joy. “I was waiting for the bus,” he told me. “The sun was just coming up, a huge ball of light on a glorious morning. I stood there, basking in its warmth, when suddenly the thought crossed my mind, ‘I feel like a million dollars.’ Before I knew what hit me, another thought rolled in: ‘I am a million dollars! I am a million dollars that God is sending into the universe today to make it a better place.’

“All my life, I have thought about wealth as something that I have, not as something that I am. Perhaps, if I thought of myself as wealth that God is sharing with the Universe, instead of thinking of my wealth as something outside of me, I would eliminate the awareness of separation between myself and my wealth.”

I could only advise my friend not to adopt his new insight for the sake of getting more wealth, or he would create the separation once again. His excited musings started me on a train of thought about the difference between having and being. Can you have what you are not?

Most of us don’t see any connection between being and having. It’s living out of who we are, not out of what we have, that makes life worthwhile. And, unless we focus on being, we can never really have.

The way in to being is through stillness. “Be still, and know that I am God”—it is in meditation, in quiet walks in the park, when standing in awe before a sunrise or a sunset, and in the pause between two affirmations that there comes the stillness that is the very heart and soul of who we are and the place of encounter with God. It is the still point between the sobs of a grieving parent. It is in the space between the canvas and the artist’s brush, in the space between two heartbeats. We hear it between two notes of music and between two clangs of a church bell.

In stillness, we join forces with the God of creation and declare that the world is good and very good. Like God, we are not daunted by the power of evil—we respect it, even as we go for its Achilles’ heel, much as an electrical repairperson handles downed wires carefully, knowing full well how to get them up and running again.

Stillness bestows those powers upon us all. So, here’s to my much-excited friend at his bus stop. His stillness in the sun led to insight and exuberance, which he shared with me and I have shared with you. Stillness is contagious like that. Having caught it, we must now let it catch us, so that we can, in turn, give it to the world.

Source: Excerpted from the late Father Paul Keenan’s column for For information about his writings, including his new book, If You Want to Change Your Mind, You Have to Open Your Heart, visit

Join Our Community Newsletter