Monday, May 23, 2011

Stillness, The Silent Preacher

Last night as a storm rolled in, I sat with my family out on our back porch watching the lightening cross the sky. Stacey was taking pictures! We would gasp at the strength of the thunderous shock of sound and then count to see how close the strike was to our house.

As things worsened outside, I went inside to prepare the house for a possible power outage. My daughter and I walked through each room and lit a candle or two, to illuminate each space. Sure enough, with the next flash of lightening, our power went out.

I stood in the silent sanctuary, aglow with candle light. I had never realized that even when all the kids were sleeping and electronics were off, my house was still purring, clicking and humming with the sounds of production. But when the power went off, a true silence fell upon the space. The ice maker had stopped it's cycle of clunking. The constant whir of air through the conditioner ceased. And it felt as if the shoulders of our house literally relaxed when the power went out. I had never heard silence so strongly before.

I stood in the middle of the room, waiting to see if this power outage was just a flicker or something more. In just a few moments the house groaned, as though it were singing a musical scale, the hum started low and slid upward into full activity again.

The penetrating silence of that scarce moment, relayed the reality of perpetual activity. Our lives are so full, so busy with producing and maintaining, that even my house is working non-stop to keep up. And when all activity was stilled, there was a substance of silence that covered me like honey. Standing alone inside the candlelit room, the flames cast shadows on the high ceiling. My living room, where laundry is folded, homework is accomplished and popcorn eaten had been transformed by stillness, into the sacred sanctuary of silence. It was a holy moment for me, one that delivered a powerful note of permission. The silence preached to me, "Receive this." "This," meaning the experience of what silence can do. There is a great deal of irony at play in the passion of the silence.

How can silence DO anything when DOING anything at all, disturbs the silence?

For us, doing something, moving at all really, creates noise. But when we seek the silence, we are pursuing the path to surrender, where God alone can make himself known.

He is God.

He says, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

He is in the still, small voice. He can transform with a whisper. But we must meet the hardest request for our flesh in order to hear Him. We must surrender to the silence. To tell our flesh to stop producing, just for one moment of each day and to sit at His feet without distraction, is the greatest worship of all. To stop doing and start being, is our most extravagant expression of faith.

At various stages of my life, I have found the struggle to be still, very difficult. As a teenager, I was distracted, both mentally and physically. As a young wife and mother, my duty and the demands of motherhood made me feel as if silence was a planet in another galaxy, inaccessible in my life-time. Then as my children have grown, my life has expanded to include hours of mentorship and business meetings. Life is never going to accommodate stillness.

We must order the world around us, even if it is for just a moment of the day.

Find or create your place to "be still." For young people, you may need to clear the clutter (posters and pop culture) out of your bedroom and create a sanctuary of silence. For mommy's, the bathtub might be the only respite behind closed doors for you to find peace. My husband and I had an agreement when our kids were little, that if I was in the bathtub, that was my time. Stacey, (my husband) defended the doors for me. At times there were protests when it seemed
only "mommy" could fix it. I bought ear plugs to get the silence every cell of my body was screaming for. So, Stacey would handle whatever was going on outside that door, while I surrendered to the silence that restores.

My husband finds his silent sanctuary at a beautiful golf course or on his daily run. Silence is not something that can always be scheduled. I frequently set aside a beautiful tea cup and I get in my mind, that when the moment opens up, I will steal away with my book, blanket and Lady Gray tea for my own private celebration of silence. Most day's I only have enough time to stop for that hot cup of tea. I read a few pages (maybe more) and take a few sips and ALWAYS receive a moment of silent gratitude. In just a
moment of being still I know more fully that HE is GOD.

What are some of the ways you find a silent sanctuary? Sharing your experience may empower many others to know God more fully, simply by finding a way to BE STILL.

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