Saturday, January 26, 2013

No Ornamental Silence

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theater,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings,
with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facades are all being rolled away...
- T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Different people know me differently. To some I am forward and frank and occasionally funny. To others I am a voice at the back of the room. Some know the easygoer but others know if they injure those I care about they had better not be bringing a knife to a gun fight.

I have friends with whom I never seem to run out of conversation. I have a husband who is comfortable with my silence. I have a soul that worships stillness even as I applaud God and dance in His Presence.

The real Kathy is a quiet, solitary person which may be a revelation to some and a cause for disbelief in others. The real Kathy is not overly fond of the sound of her own voice (I would rather write than speak) but treasures times when God talks. Perhaps the origin was a child who ran off to the woods to build secret altars when there was war at home.

I am not desirous of an ornamental silence, the absence of genuine quietness. I have a soul that listens deep and searches out those still places where God is known. The stillness where this earth bound life becomes the vapor and all that is Heaven becomes substantial.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

The stillness God refers to calls us not just to be quiet but to cease from motion. One translation of the root word implies we stop beating our wings. We wait. Like the audience in the poem, we do not jump out of our seat at the end of the first act as the lights dim and hide from us the preparations for what comes next.

Neither do we engage our neighbors. We wait in silent expectancy. Something new is coming and the momentary darkness, the stillness, gives us occasion to make the mental change necessary to receive the next act.

I know people who are afraid of that scenery being moved around in the dark. There are hurtful things in their lives but they are familiar. They have left their seats and are searching for the house lights. How many times have I done the same, like the bird beating its wings against the window.

The God of Great Love would have us quiet our wings, let a sacred stillness fill us and flow into all the noisy places where His voice has only been half heard. To wait in silence, in patience, for the set to be changed. I know God for real in that place and my true self emerges in an atmosphere where God is heard even when He whispers. "...when the imposing facades are all being rolled away."

Should you have an interest, there are some resources that might help you to find that still place. Always remember that the Holy Spirit knows the way of it and will direct you to it if you allow Him. It is a place of peace and recovery; of replenishment and insight; of strength.

If you come back to me and trust me, you will be saved. 

If you will be calm and trust me, you will be strong. 

Isaiah 30:15


  1. In the center of His will my soul is resting. . .
    Resting from the cares of life forever free..
    Like the bird that's found its nest so my soul has found its rest, in the center of the will of God. . .
    And there do I find my solace, my quiet place in Him, alone, but never lonely, for I know that place in the cleft of the rock is where I with my Savior dwell. Psalm 91 ESV

  2. "Inner silence is for our race a difficult achievement. There is a chattering part of the mind which continues, until it is corrected, to chatter on even in the holiest places." (C.S. Lewis, in Perelandra)

    I love this post.