On her final show, Oprah shared her greatest lessons and hopes for her viewers. In this series of posts, Paul highlights ten lessons Oprah learned, along with his related and unrelated thoughts and stories.
“People often ask me, What is the secret of success of the show? How have we lasted 25 years? I non-jokingly say, ‘My team and Jesus.’ Because nothing but the hand of God has made this possible for me…. I know I’ve never been alone, and you haven’t either. And I know that that presence, that flow — some people call it grace — is working in my life at every single turn. And yours too, if you let it in. It’s closer than your breath, and it is yours for the asking.
“I have felt the presence of God my whole life. Even when I didn’t have a name for it, I could feel the voice bigger than myself speaking to me, and all of us have that same voice. Be still and know it. You can acknowledge it or not. You can worship it or not. You can praise it, you can ignore it or you can know it. Know it. It’s always there speaking to you and waiting for you to hear it in every move, in every decision. I wait and I listen. I’m still — I wait and listen for the guidance that’s greater than my meager mind.” — Oprah Winfrey, May 25, 2011
Revelations in the stillness
Silence has not been a pleasant experience for me. Silence takes me back to childhood trauma that happened in the quiet darkest of night. Experiences I could not speak about.
Sitting still never existed for me. If you want to find me in our home movies, just look for the blur dancing across the screen. A churn of motion. Hyperactivity in hyper-drive. On our vacations across the country, I’m in the back seat bouncing up and down. When the gas pedal was pressed, I was in bounce mode. Day or night. As if I’m one of the pistons in the car’s engine.
So sitting still, in silence, in my home, on my porch, waiting and listening is an event I couldn’t imagine. Can’t imagine to this day. And here is how I experience silence.
Getting out in nature. A hike up to a view. Sequoia comes to mind. There’s a trail that overlooks a breathtaking sight — the high Sierras and a glacier carved valley below. River rushing. Snow melting. Here I can sit, be still and listen, and rest up for the hike back down.
In the shower. Warm water. Glass cocoon of rain. My body speaks to me differently. From a different place.
After playing the piano. The shift from active hands, energized brain, expressing emotions, waves of sound. To quiet stillness. That still small voice calls out.
Walking in a crowded sidewalk alongside a busy street. San Francisco, Manhattan. Diverse people so I see fewer people “like me.” The crowd takes care of my stimulation needs so my body is calm.
On my porch. Wait just 5 paragraphs above… Sitting still on my porch. Sitting. Still. In a wicker chair. Yep, it happens. Several times a week.
If you asked me this morning about going on a silent retreat, I would reply, “I should do that. It’s recommended for people who are ADD. And I can’t imagine ever doing that.”
After the stillness of writing this reflection, I can reply, “I love silent retreats. I often hear, see, feel, taste, touch my world differently. How can I have more of that?”