“Still waters run deep” is a proverb of Latin origin that originally meant that a placid exterior may be masking a passionate interior nature.
Shakespeare says something similar in Henry VI, Part 2: “Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.” In that context, he is referring to a quiet person being dangerous:
Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep,
And in his simple show he harbours treason...
No, no, my sovereign, Gloucester is a man
Unsounded yet and full of deep deceit.
For our purposes here, I’d like to give it a slightly different twist. If one observes a river or stream, the spots where the water appears most active are where it is shallow – frothing over rocks, for example. Those areas that appear pacific are much deeper. The current is flowing deeper down.
A wise friend once told me that the deepest progress is slow.
Psalm 42:7-8 says:
Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
While events and circumstances crash like waterfalls around us and in us, when we find ourselves battling anxieties or depressions, when we are confronted by a world that runs at top speed, in order to know God, in order to find peace, we have to slow down.
Kosuke Koyama (1929-2009) was a Japanese Protestant theologian, who, among many other works wrote a book called Three Mile An Hour God. Three miles per hour is the approximate speed humans normally walk.
While the world around us rushes ever more quickly, encouraging us to fill every second with activity, God is inviting us to walk with Jesus. Not run with Jesus. We’re not sprinting for the Lord, although some churches have so much activity going on, you’d think that was the case.
Jesus calls us to walk with him.
Try it. Slow your pace. Slow your breathing. Shut off your devices. Let go of your goals. Take a long leisurely stroll, preferably in nature, be aware of your breath and your footsteps. Be aware of the subtle sights and sounds around you. Stop to watch a spider climb a tree, observe a bird perched on a branch, listen to the breeze in the grasses. If there’s water nearby, listen to it. Listen deeply. Listen for a long time.
Not long ago, I was gazing at the petroglyphs carved by humans 13,000 years ago in what is now Nevada. I could almost hear the ancient authors whispering. I’m pretty sure I did hear the still small voice of the Divine. I know I felt a sense of calmness and peace.