Let the Spirit Breathe [part 2]
Laurie Gordon of Bend, OR, USA
…and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. -1 Kings 19:12
In the depths of inner darkness, Elijah hears a “still, small voice.” Or, as the NRSV intriguingly renders the passage, Elijah hears God in the “sound of sheer silence.” Unexpected indeed.
The birder in me likes to think that God sings, rather than merely speaks, to us-and not so much one-pitch vocalizations as multi-layered harmonies. If God sings to us in tones of inner stillness and the sheer silence between words, how are we word-bound creatures to discern God’s melodies? If God calls us amid the complex symphony of life experience, how are we to intuit the divine message? How did Elijah discern the Voice of God? Like a good birder he listened, he paid attention to what he heard (and didn’t hear), and then he listened ever more deeply.
It is daunting for a new birder to recognize meaning beyond the safe familiarity of words. It takes deep, constant attention to learn the identifying variations in pulse and tone. It requires intention, awareness, study, practice, the help of companions, and humble patience to embrace the unfamiliar “thoughts and ways” of feathered songsters…or a God of Living Mystery.
As spiritual seekers we listen for the sound of God’s sheer silence in the complex cadences of life. We examine the pitch, rhythm, tempo, and quality of our experiences. We pay attention to grace. We hear God calling in the desperation and sorrow of others as well as in the joy of sharing life with each other. Listen! God is singing God’s great love for you and for all creation.
“Awake, my soul!” (Psalm 57:8 NRSV)
The Prayer of the Heart
Early Christian disciples desired to take seriously the scripture mandate to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The prayer of the heart invites us to pray “continuously” by repeating and returning to a prayer phrase planted for intentional reflection and deepening. Choose a word or phrase (from scripture, hymnody, or personal reflection) that has meaning for you. The Jesus Prayer is one form of the prayer of the heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:35-43). Invite this simple phrase to repeat in your heart throughout the day, awakening your soul to God’s presence.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.