The Sound of Silence~I Kings 19:1-15a
One of the great stories of the Old Testament is the conflict between the wicked queen, Jezebel, and God's prophet, Elijah. The end result is a price being put on Elijah's head, and he runs for the hills, hides in a cave, and waits for a sign from God.
I've been there, how about you? I was there when my 42 year old father battled cancer and we prayed desperately for his healing, oh, Jesus, give me a sign. I was there when 4 year old Ashley was found at the bottom of the swimming pool, hooked up to a respirator, her fragile life hanging in the balance. Oh, please, please, God, show me a sign.
So here sits Elijah, deep in a cave which could very well become his tomb, waiting. There was a great wind - no message from God. Then, an earthquake - did you think it was a sign from God last Sunday at 3:20 a.m.? Sorry, no sign. A fire, surely God is in the fire, after all, the burning bush -nope, no heavenly word to be had. Until, finally, sheer silence. Nothing, no God at all. Elijah finds his way in the dark to the entrance of the cave, and standing there is God. Silence is the sign; God is in the silence!
August 24, 3:20 a.m., started with the roaring of a train smashing into the house, followed by a violent shaking, a flash of light, glass shattering, and then...silence. Fear raced through my body, I ran barefoot through glass, frightened and quaking of my own making. But, in the silence, came a voice over the back fence that said, "Are you okay?" It was the still, small Voice of God I heard, filled with loving concern.
For the most part, we don't do very well when God gives us the silent treatment. And I think it's because when God is silent, we just assume God is absent, and we lose hope, our faith flutters to the floor like a dropped handkerchief.
Frederick Buechner tells about waiting for a sign. His anorexic daughter was dying. He writes, "I remember sitting parked by the roadside once, terribly depressed and afraid, when out of nowhere a car came along with a license plate that read: TRUST . . .for me, it was an epiphany. The owner of the car turned out to be a trust officer in a bank, and he read an account of my experience...and he brought me the license plate, which sits on my bookshelf, rusty and a little battered, and as holy a relic as I have ever seen."
It is why we come here , to this musty, marvelous monastery . . . for the silence. For the music, for the chanting, for the praying, yes, but - for the silence. Because it is out of the silence that God's word for us is revealed, and it is into the silence that we are called, to turn away from the noise, to bless the space between us, to return to the place where we strain to hear the music that God plays deep within us. The sound of silence.
Rev. Lynda Hyland Burris