by Jenn Hale
October 2, 2019
Unthinkable events unfold before our eyes—sometimes in real life and sometimes on the screens that bring us the news. And when these unthinkable events unfold, in those first few moments of shock, we have no words. And then . . . we are bombarded with them. From every direction we hear more words than we know what to do with: words that try to find reason, words provoking emotion and response, words attempting to draw lines, and words that cause us to choose corners.
This week I had been caught up in the whirlwind of words. I was trying to make sense of them all and I had chosen my corner. But what my heart was really looking for was a refuge. I was looking for a refuge from the atrocities in the news and the fear that has been trying to make its way into my heart when I drop my kids off at school, when I enter a crowded place or when I worry about the future. Honestly, I was looking for refuge in the words of others and hoping to find comfort, reason, direction and maybe even marching orders from their words.
And there is certainly no lack of words. As long as there are people in the world, I suppose there never will be. But sometimes what we need most is a refuge from the rhetoric—from all the words themselves. Even while I was caught up in words this week, trying to make sense of them all, I remembered Psalm 62:5-8:
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.
I was reminded that sometimes what I need is not more words, but silence. Waiting in silence. Not immediate words to help me make sense and choose corners, but silence . . . a place to hold space in my heart and mind so that I might actually be able to hear the voice of God.
But this is such unfamiliar territory—we are not well acquainted with waiting! We are used to fast food and instant gratification and immediate answers, and so it feels hard and strange to learn to do this waiting. Especially in silence. Silence can be the loudest thing we’ve ever heard if we aren’t used to it. Especially when we are waiting for answers.
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
Yes. And I am learning. Slowly, but I am learning.
So I will pull away from the action and the noise. I will learn to wait, even though I’d rather have immediate answers. I will seek the silence, though it seems unfamiliar and strange . . . and there I will listen for the One Voice that matters most.
When Jenn is not reading all the words (she loves books), listening to all the words (she's a big podcast fan), or speaking all the words (thank goodness for friends who listen), she is enjoying the silence with a cup of coffee on her back porch.
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