There is a time of day when the wind stands still. Can it be called wind if it refuses to move? Perhaps not. Allow me to begin, again . . . there is a time of day when the air around us stops and stays. Instead of rushing past the leaves of trees it faces and considers each leaf, it stops and stares. The air wraps itself around tree trunks and potted plants and the coarse hair on a dog’s back. The air stays and sits. It stays and looks. It stays and feels.

Recently, a friend of mine told me he feels “numb.” Emotionally numb. This idea of numbness captivated my imagination because while I could conceive of numbness in my mind, even in my own far-off experience, I could not touch it with my imagination. What is it to be numb? Is it a fact? A feeling? Is it the release of an expectation so vibrant that when it falls to your feet it burns the ground around you, thus forcing you to stand still? Does numbness force you to watch the fiery circle of broken expectation burn like a cylinder of coals around your feet, not to be crossed but by the most courageous of bare-footed heroes?

To be numb one must agree with numbness. One must take the hand of numbness and choose not to dance, not to look, not to stutter a step in any one direction. A choice to stay still.

Is this what the air does at that time of day when it stops and stays? Does it agree not to interact to such a degree that it stops being what it once was, “wind?” Or . . . does the air teach us something about the gifts hidden in stillness? Is the air numb or is it free and in its freedom does it choose to look, to touch, to reach out and wrap itself around tree trunks and potted plants and the coarse hair on a dog’s back?

Often we assume emotional availability and freedom will look a certain way, feel a certain way. We assume freedom looks more like the wind: wild, careless, quick and ever-changing. We assume freedom looks like the wisps of hair flying in front of a young woman’s face or the seeds from a Dandelion’s stem floating above puckered lips during the summer time. But freedom can also look “numb.” It can be still and stay. It can sit in our laps and look into our eyes and wait for us to see beneath its petals and into its roots. Numbness can be the moment just before the sun sets in the evening when the birds are huddling into their nests, when the water on the lake looks like glass reflecting God back to Himself, when a father is staring into the opening stars with a cold Bud Light in his hand after a long day of work. Numb can be sit and stay. The freedom to sit and stay.

–Jill Szoo Wilson