Wednesday Word: Holy Silence
Joelene and I are going on vacation in just over a week. I put a post up on Facebook asking for recommendations of where to go and got all kinds of responses. If you were one of the people who responded, thank you. We opted for a beach excursion and will be spending three days by the ocean.
Coordinating vacations for the two of us can be difficult. She needs to worry about how much time she has available and if a particular time-slot is available. I'm easier on that front, but I need to worry about whether or not I can find supply clergy to cover those Sundays I want to be gone. The good news is that we made it work – at least for this particular week in July.
So we're going to take some time, get away, walk on the beach, explore the town, and generally just relax. We'll spend some time in silence listening to the sound of the ocean. We may take a short road trip and go explore. I'm sure there will be a few other things that will make themselves available (crab shacks are high on that list), but I'm particularly looking forward to listening to the ocean.
Listening to the ocean is something along the lines of holy silence. There's really nothing you can say to the ocean, you can only sit and listen to the never-ending sound of waves coming to shore. It's a sound that hasn't changed for billions of years, ever since the first ocean wave crashed ashore on the first mass of land it encountered. We just sit and listen.
I know people who like to vacation in the mountains or other parts of nature who also enjoy listening – listening to the birds, other animals, gurgling brooks, the wind, or maybe a waterfall. There's something about listening to these things, spending time in that holy silence, that is calming. There is something there reminding us that, no matter how crazy, hectic, or chaotic things get, all will be well. But we need to take the time to sit. We need to take the time to be still. We need to take the time to listen. We need to take time to sit in holy silence.
Wherever you are, however you are coping with the stress of COVID, whatever busy-ness has been showing up in your life, take some time to spend in holy silence. What can you hear? What do you want to hear? Listen.
Sometimes in that listening we discover answers to our questions. Sometimes in that listening we discover answers to questions we never knew we were asking. Sometimes in that listening we are comforted. Sometimes in that listening we just listen and nothing is different.
All of those are okay. It's not about finding answers. It's not about discovering some deep, previously unknown answer to life. It's simply about being available to listen to the God who has been here for billions of years singing a song as never-ending as the waves crashing onto shore.
And maybe, if we spend time in that holy silence just listening, we can also learn to be present with others, offering to them the holy silence of ourselves as we listen to what they are saying.