Be Still and Love

white wicker padded bench
Photo by Brett Sayles on

“Be Still and Love”

Caring observation creates opportunities for acts of love.

1986 was in the middle of the so-called Decade of Greed. Stockbrokers grew rich. Corporations shed their loyalty to employees. A Motorola “brick” mobile phone would set you back almost $4000. American sedans were boxy gas guzzlers. And I was a freshly minted Deacon (now called probationary Elder) in the United Methodist Church.

And I jogged. I really hated jogging but took it up to get in shape for active duty in the Navy Chaplain Corps the next year. In the meantime, I was busy learning ministry as Associate Pastor of First UMC in Eustis Florida.

Every morning that I laced up and stretched out, I hoped I would get to see church members George and Wilma Burdick. My route took me past their little beige bungalow where they would sit on the front porch drinking coffee. I love coffee. I hate jogging. It was perfect. I could stop running, drink coffee and be pastoral all at the same time.

On those occasions they would always invite me up (old Methodist parishioners are universally kind to young Methodist preachers). I would abandon the pavement -pounding, amble up the sidewalk past the name “Burdick’s” carved in script on a rustic ash gray wooden sign (the post tilted slightly from a brush with the lawn mower) and take a seat in a spare rocker.

From this wonderfully gracious pair of septuagenarians I discovered the value of being still, knowing God and loving your neighbor. During my mornings in that rocker I looked out upon a bare vista of small houses, sod and asphalt. That was about all I could see. But from their countless mornings on the porch, the Burdick’s beheld a vast, detailed and nuanced world of need to which they felt called to care and serve.

About 7:30am there went Mrs. C. She stops at the four way at Haselton and East Washington and continues straight through. Her purse is perched on the roof of her station wagon. I chuckle. Wilma notes that she normally turns right. Perhaps she’s headed toward the doctor’s office. Maybe it’s her appointment about the cancer diagnosis. Later, she will call Mrs. C. Now I wish I hadn’t chuckled.

Sometime later a school bus approached from the direction of Eustis High. Full stop at the corner but heavy on the gas taking off, and in first gear a school bus is pretty quick. George peered at the cab window of the big yellow dragster and told the tale. New driver running late. Prayers for him.

They had done this for years and years; ever since they planted themselves on that corner in Eustis. Every morning; coffee, caring perception, prayer and action plans. I was astounded at how much knowledge this couple had accrued about their neighbors and neighborhood.

There is a sea of difference between a nosy neighbor and an observant, caring one. The Burdick’s had honed the spiritual art of being still, knowing God and loving their neighbors.

For stargazers, time plus observation multiplied by years cultivates the world of astronomy. For the Burdick’s, the same formula produced the discipline of effective love. And let’s face it. We all need looking after.

Someone once told me about the proverbial “two kinds of people”; those who sat on fences and watched cars go by and those who sat in cars and watched fenceposts go by. I have always been the guy in the car. I thought I could learn more. I thought I could do more. But that beautiful old couple taught me that we can learn and do just as much from sitting on the fence. Maybe more.



Romans 10:9-10

9 thoughts on “Be Still and Love

  1. What a beautiful reflection I have a past memory and God moment in your life Pastor Mike. I just loved it. We never really do know God and neighbor until we get still!! Love your writing keep it up. Miss you guys!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s