Falling Silent

A regular reader of my blog commented recently that I only seem to post sermon texts these days with rare exceptions. I wasn’t sure how to interpret the comment: as a criticism, as a request for more, or simply as stating a fact. In any case, it did get me thinking: there was a season in the life of this blog that I shared thoughts on current events that moved me in one direction or another. There was a time when I engaged passionately with the news far and near: a disaster, an injustice, a scandal, a tragedy, a good news story even. I wanted to share my two-cent’s worth of thoughts and opinions. Now for the most part, I have fallen silent, unless I weave world events into my preaching.

Why the silence? Is it caused by paralysis, afraid to say anything that could offend someone somewhere? Is the silence fueled by helplessness and powerlessness, because I am at a loss as to how to keep up with a world that seems to suffer more pain than joy, and that seems to be changing faster than the speed of light?

Some negative reasons surely play. I got burnt on Facebook and my blog a few times by misperceptions and rash judgments. So I quit FB posting, except for work purposes. Social media can bring out the worst in us; it is no substitute for f2f encounters with meaning and depth. Moreover, I’m not interested in serving as an information feeder to companies tracking my “likes” and other social media behaviour so they can target advertising to my personal interests.

I do hope that my silence is grounded in something deeper. As I move through days filled with an array of encounters and situations, I learn and grow as well as lament and hurt. As a committed disciple of Jesus, I strive to make room for all whose stories and challenges find their way into my heart. It is then that I fall silent. No question, words are a gift and blessing; playing with them is still my favourite pastime. But there comes a time in life when silence has more to say …

I fall silent at the uniqueness and beauty of each child of God,
at the fact that I know so little about anything …
I fall silent at the layers and layers of meaning behind words,
at the political and ecclesial scandals and decay,
at the divine colour palette in a prairie sunset …

I fall silent as my heart stretches into compassion,
so love can get through my occasional verbal diarrhea …
I fall silent at blooming wildflowers in a ditch,
at the morning chorus of birds.
I fall silent to soak in peace and mercy,
as the surest way into a genuine embrace …
I fall silent when others have more to say than I …

I fall silent to dissolve anger at injustice and exploitation,
I fall silent to breathe calmly into chaos,
at snowflakes quietly falling, pulling me into awe …
I fall silent to gently hold another’s struggle,
as trickles of mercy crack my hardened spirit,
when another needs my ear more than I need hers …

I fall silent when it speaks louder than words,
when there’s no room for me,
to be washed in mercy,
in protest of the virtual poverty of social media …
I fall silent to be more present,
to make room for another’s holy ground,
in order to speak the right words …
I fall silent in horror of innocent killing of bodies and spirits …
I fall silent because it might just foster wise aging …

I fall silent into a loving, all-knowing, and merciful God,
in shock and despair, in gratitude and in joy,
into divine communion and holy mystery …
I fall silent to listen ….
In the loving and rejoicing,
weeping and wailing,
forgiving and strengthening,
laughing and consoling,
God … you are present in the
sound of silence, here and now:

“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 I heard it, I wrapped my face in my mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave… (adapted from 1 Kings 19:11-13)

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