The phrase popped up unexpectedly during a search for something else on this ‘first day of the year,’ and as sometimes happens with a voice heard in passing through a crowd, reverberated strongly, leaving an impression that persisted long afterward. It is from Hazrat Inayat’s Nature Meditations, inspired by seeing trees at night:
My heart stands in waiting and hope
as the trees stand still through the darkness of night.*
The sentence brings together several threads – stillness, waiting, hope, and darkness. The seeker waits, like the trees, because the light is absent, but like the trees, which have grown by the power of light and are made to live in the light, whose own being and structure is a testimony to the existence of light even though it may be imperceptible at the moment, we wait for the illumination to come. And perhaps the way that the phrase stepped forward and called attention to itself is also part of its teaching, in that it was unsought for. Often, the best ‘gifts’ of the moment are the ones we did not know we were looking for. In other words, if we hold too tightly to our concept of what we want, we exclude the other possibilities that the stream of life may bring. Perhaps that is the real sense of ‘stillness’ in this context: to be empty—empty of agendas, and therefore empty of complaints—so that whatever comes will fill us.
And of course the phrase also gives us comfort because it tells us that the darkness is temporary, not permanent. If we understand the heart as a capacity, then the phrase assures us that the capacity will indeed be filled when the moment is right. Could there be a better thought with which to begin the New Year?
*The Nature Meditations are phrases based upon some aspect of nature, keyed to the breath so that one can contemplate the image while silently breathing the thought. In the case of this phrase, the first line would be placed upon the inhalation, and the second line would be placed upon the exhalation.