It’s quiet around here, on this Memorial Day. No parades. It’s cool and misty, so no beach traffic. Unless I crank up the music, zoom or answer the phone, the day will settle into silence, sometimes too deep for comfort. Now and then, a seagull squawks, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”,and I don’t beg to differ. Mostly, it’s a NO WAKE zone, like the advisory to boaters in the harbor. No waves.
As an introvert, I welcome quiet. Reading and writing are restorative, give me joy. But these weeks of distancing from others feel different. How can silence be more meaning-full? Frederick Buechner’s words from Whistling in the Dark, challenge me.
“It is no surprise that the Bible uses hearing, not seeing, as the predominant image for the way human beings know God. They can’t walk around God and take God in like a cathedral or an artichoke. They can only listen to time for the sound of God–to the good times and the bad times of their own lives for the words God is addressing to, of all people, them.”
So I probe, “What am I missing when I panic, use noise to drown out the silence of hard memories, tough questions, future worries? What might God be saying to me during this pandemic? How does one “listen to time for the sound of God..to the good and bad times of our lives”?
More than 300 years ago, a German woman, Katharina von Schlegel(born in 1697) wrote a poem. Decades later, Jane Borthwick (1813-1897) translated the poem into English. Still later, her words were set to music by Finland’s Jean Sibelius(1899).
‘Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side, bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; leave to your God to order and provide, in every change he faithful will remain.”
Suffering , death and loss aren’t new. Today many struggle with painful memories. Wars destroy more than bodies. Which makes me wonder, what was Katharina’s “cross of grief or pain”? What was life like way back then? How did she listen to her times? I can only guess but remain grateful she listened, heard and wrote that which God still uses to whisper hope into our days.
Katharina’s words remind me God’s faithful. and can be trusted with hard memories, tough questions and future worries.
So, be still my soul.
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