I know it’s a recurring theme when I’m sharing thoughts and experiences (my preaching) but the volume (decibels and quantity) of noise in the world continues to be overwhelmingly deafening. So much noise that we can’t actually hear anything anymore, much less a quiet voice of goodness, love, kindness, compassion, care (my preferred word of choice) or any and all other words we use to describe what I often refer to as God’s grace. But I have (and hopefully you do also) things that I do to find quiet and calm to give myself some rest. One is to take a walk, preferably on some sort of hiking trail, sometimes alone and sometimes with a friend or two. My other routine is to find time to sit alone in the quiet and meditate, ponder, reflect, be still… and a variety of other words I use when describing prayer.
Today as I sat down and prepared myself (got a fresh cup of coffee, put a second cushion on the chair, and cut a fresh piece of fudge) for some meditative prayer, I got a text from a police chief colleague and friend. In his short text he simply said that he was facing a moral conflict in his professional life. His text reminded me of something else that happened a couple days ago as I was out for a walk on my favorite trail with Cam. As we walked we approached a guy walking towards us all bundled up. I looked closer as he passed and realized he was a neighbor and a friend that we spent a fair amount of time with when our kids were growing up together. These days when we see each other, our routine is a quick nod or hello as we pass on the trail. We nodded and although he had his headphones in, I turned as he passed and said “I hope the family is all healthy!” At that, he turned around and shared some very challenging health issues they were facing as a family.
The conversations that followed were very significant, yet brief. The details of the conversation are not the point of this story. It’s the where, the when and the how the conversations took place that I see as important. Both of these stories, of personal pain and challenges, were shared as I was engaging my quiet time with God, in times of silence. With three major storms raging in the world right now: pandemic… social and civil unrest… political divide… it’s hard for us to hear the honest, humble stories of suffering that so many are experiencing. And the suffering continues to happen in silence because of the noise. So here’s my suggestion if you want to help calm some of the storms and bring care to others in need in these challenging times… be still, be quiet, pay attention… and the sheer silence and still small voices might just find you!
Here’s a piece of scripture that tells a similar story of hearing God’s voice, a voice only heard outside of the noise of three loud storms… in silence:
He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?… ” (1 Kings 19: 11-13 NRSV)
Life is Sacred… Treat it with Care! Pastor Dan.
And have a Happy and Caring Thanksgiving too!