Thursday, March 10, 2005

Silence, Peace, Quietness

Isaiah 32:17-18 (King James Version)

“17And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
18And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places”

Nancy and I will be leaving in a little while for a day in Kansas City, a day of sights and sounds.

Here in Emporia as I contemplate the day ahead of us I’m enjoying a quiet sunrise. It’s quiet enough that I feel that I’d like to suspend this moment and hold it here forever.

It’s interesting. The silence has its own distinctive sounds. It’s not a void. It’s a very active medium, filled with communication.

I once heard the story of a man who got fed up with the corporate grind, the corporate noise. In a fit of inspiration he considered spending the rest of his life in a monastery. He took some time checking out what it would all mean to him. After visiting several he came upon one that he felt met his need for silence. The guidelines were direct, right to the point. He had to agree to accept a vow of silence for the rest of his life. The only exception to this rule was that every ten years he would be allowed to meet with the monastery’s leadership and speak only two words. After all the years of noise in the corporate marketplace he happily accepted this rule.

The first ten years went by and his first meeting with the leadership was held. He was asked, “What do you have to say, my son?”
“Bad food,” the man replied.

Another ten years went by and he was again asked, “What do you have to say, my son?”
“Hard bed,” the man replied.

Ten years later he was once again asked, “What do you have to say, my son?”
“I quit,” the man replied.

The leaders all nodded their heads in agreement, “It’s about time. You’ve done nothing but complain ever since you’ve been here.”

No, silence doesn’t mean that there is an absence of sound in our lives. It doesn’t mean that we abandon conversation, that we become detached. It doesn’t mean that we turn on some sort of celestial mute button to cut us off from the world.

What it does mean is that we can be at peace even when the noise of the world tries to drown it out. There in the quiet, in the stillness, in the silence we find that there is much productive work going on, that this seemingly silent world is a very active place. It’s there we can find peace and learn to cling to the hope that only God can give.

God hasn’t called us to be detached, mute observers of a world spinning madly out of control. We’re called to engage our world. It’s in those quiet, silent places that we learn how to bring healing and reconciliation. It’s there we learn that our role is not be the strident adversary, but ambassadors of grace and restoration.

I’ll close this abbreviated post with the words to a chorus Nancy and I have become very fond of. I hope that, in some small way, it will help you find strength in the stillness today:

Bring Your Kingdom
(Text and Music: Bob Baker, 1992)

I will wait in silence for You. Each and ev’ry day I watch for You.
I will look to the heavens for You’re my hope and my portion.
I will wait in silence for You.


Bring Your kingdom, heal and restore. Send Your Spirit and fill us once more.
Maranatha, come, oh Lord, bring Your Kingdom.
Yes, I will wait in silence for You.

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