To be honest, I've been walking through one of those periods of spiritual quiet for some time, now. I've been straining to hear, craning my neck to see, but nothing comes.
I've kept my eyes and ears open, waiting for a glimpse or a whisper, but all I receive is a reverberating silence and my own words dissolving into thin air.
I would say that it has been a source of tension for me, and it has, but it has also been a calming type of quiet. Yes, I've tossed a few harshly worded prayers to heaven in moments of frustration, but I have also come to know the silence well and sometimes, if I look or listen hard enough, I can see a shadow or echo of presence, a ripple of something more real that I know moving beneath the surface.
I am not alone, and when I press into the silence, I understand that. I know that a friendship has reached a deeper level when I can simply sit in comfortable silence with the other person. Perhaps this kind of silence from God is similar.
When the silence comes, I become more alert. My senses are sharpened because I'm desperate to hear, to see, to feel. When this period of silence is over, I know I will appreciate my relationship with God in a fresh way. I'm not taking Him for granted.
I am simultaneously waiting in peaceful quiet and actively searching for God. I know I am not abandoned, yet I can't wait to come to the place of meeting again.
Those frustrating moments I mentioned? They agitate, like sandpaper against the soul. My heart is a stone and the silence is scraping, smoothing my rough edges, wearing me down....
I went downstairs tonight and sat in front of a piano and played hymns. I played hymns and paid attention to their words and one hymn struck me. It is called "Lord, You Sometimes Speak in Wonders," written my Christopher M. Idle, and these are the words:
Lord, you sometimes speak in wonders
unmistakable and clear;
mighty signs prove your presence
overcoming doubt and fear.
Lord, you sometimes speak in whispers,
still and small and scarcely heard;
only those who want to listen
catch the all-important word.
Lord, sometimes you speak in silence
through our loud and noisy day:
we can know and trust you better
when we quietly wait and pray.
Lord, you often speak in Scripture,
words that summon from the page,
shown and taught us by your Spirit
with fresh light for every age.
Lord, you always speak in Jesus,
always new yet still the same;
teach us now more of our Saviour:
make our lives display his name.
Silence is what remains when all the noise is chiseled and fallen away. We're swimming in noise and silence is the ocean floor. It is the bottom, the solid, the canvas before it is painted. A seed doesn't need sound to grow.
I'm learning to see silence as space. It is space to grow and think and be still. it is a space to ask questions and prepare for answers. It is a baseline, it is the foundation, and, like it or not, I am here.
Lord, sometimes you speak in silence......