Friday, June 21, 2013

The Flip Side

Like the psalmist, I pant . . .
   for more intimate time with God,
   for fewer distractions,
   for a life that is more settled and focused.

I think that is why, when I had the chance years ago, to begin my renewal time with a month at the Abbey of Gethsemane; why I try to return there at least once a year; why I try to carve out more silence for myself (but often fail in the attempt!).  That's probably why I try to intentionally build silence into any worship service.

Yet I am starting to recognize that in promoting such silence, in holding up the reading from First Kings 19 as 'The Template' for such a desire and longing in one's life, that I am saying to people that the only way to hear God, the only place to find God, is in the silence. 

It was true for Elijah in that moment, place, and time in his life.  It is true for me in moments at the Abbey and on quiet walks.  But it is not true for every moment, every place, every time, every person. 

Sometimes I need the tempests of God, which rattle the windows of my soul and wake me up in the muddle of the night.  Sometimes I need God to grab my heart and shake me until all the 'stuff' I have accumulated over the years falls off the shelves and breaks.  Sometimes I need the heat of God's passion for the poor, the lost, the oppressed to sear my jaded conscience and get me working for justice and righteousness.

When I was a teenager, and listening to the radio, the disc jockey would sometimes play a record.  I might like the song, it might speak to me, it might bore me to tears.  But then came those magical words, 'and now, on the flip side . . .'

Sometimes God speaks in the wind, the earthquake, the fire.  And then there is silence - that marvelous, gorgeous, longed-for gift - which I couldn't understand if I didn't listen to the flip side as well.
(c) 2013 Thom M. Shuman

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