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A Musing on Silence and Rest 8-23-2023

Have you ever realized after the fact you gave the wrong answer to a question?

You know someone asks you something and you respond quickly or without thinking and sometime later you realize “Wow, I messed that answer up.”

Usually, it happens for me at 3am and then I cannot go back to sleep.

Recently this happened to me as I was giving a teacher a ride to an exciting professional development workshop.

My Sunday bulletin from church was sitting in the front seat and my passenger began reading through it. They were wise enough to not ask me what my sermon was about as the drive was to the other side of the county and it was still fresh on my brain from the day before. (They might have gotten a repeat performance.)

What they did ask about was a fairly new addition to our order of worship. It is called a moment of silence. They asked what we did during this time. I had several smart aleck thoughts come to mind; however, I simply responded “Nothing.”

It was two days later that I realized I was wrong in my response.

You see what we should be doing in this, and other intentional moments of silence, is simply be presenting the quiet moment to make space for God.

We live in a world that not only attempts to fill every moment of our lives but is also pushing us forward to what is next. It seems that we live in a world that is trying to attack the inner life of not only prayer but also contemplation, reflection or even joy.

For example, I am always amazed that in every interview of a coach who just won a championship, someone asks the question about next season. The confetti has not even settled and folks are already looking ahead to what’s next.

Such filling of every space is not healthy – physically or spiritually. Without rest all that is within and around us becomes noise.

Part of what got me thinking about this was an article I recently read about music. If you ask most people what makes up music they talk about the sounds – that is, the notes and chords. However, there is another especially important part to any piece of music, which are called the rests. A rest is when the notes are not played. In those moments, the notes are allowed to resonate through the space. Much of what makes great music great is the harmony created by the right balance of both silent and filled space. Continuous sound even of a beautiful note eventually becomes like a jackhammer, inflecting discomfort or even pain.

Friends, music requires moments of rest for its beauty to wash over and through us.

The same is true for our mind, body, heart, and soul.

If we do not rest our bodies, we can get physically ill.

If we let our minds get overwhelmed and cluttered, we can get irritable, anxious, and depressed.

If we do not rest our hearts to remember that which is important, we can lose our priorities and end up hurting the ones we love.

And if we do not rest in silence and listen, we will miss that “still small voice of God” that guides and encourages and reminds us we are beloved.

Sitting in silence and resting is not a waste of time, even though society wants you to feel guilty for doing it. And it is not just doing nothing. Instead, it is an opportunity to make space for God. In doing so we will be reintroduced to the hope and beauty all around us. Trees and clouds and sunsets will be more clearly seen for the miracles they are. Laughter will become deeper. Conversations will be richer. Worship will be more profound. Prayer more meaningful.

All of this simply because we allow the space for the grace of God to wash over us like the waters of baptism. Reminding us who we are and to whom we belong in both life and death.

So, I pray that you and I will not try to fill all the spaces in our lives but make room for contemplation, and listening for the divine, and experience the good news of great joy that has been made available to all who would but listen for the angels and seek the light.

Blessings to all.



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