March 17, 2015 By: Kristen Queen
Psalm 46: 10-11
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.
I recently made my first journey to London, England. The trip was mostly business, but I wanted to be sure to save a few moments for sight-seeing. (More on “saving moments” later…) At some stage in my admittedly short life, I became quite interested in making a point of visiting notable houses of worship whenever traveling. To see the work of great architects, engineers, artisans, and common citizens coming together to create a sacred place to worship is awe-inspiring. England, particularly London, is home to many breathtaking and historic houses of worship. So, it should come as no surprise that near the top of my tourist list were planned visits to both St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Both are still active churches with worship and prayer services offered throughout the week. I made sure to experience brief services at each. There’s something indescribably fulfilling about silence in churches of these magnitude. One might assume that it would feel excruciatingly vacant or ominous with the thousands of square feet of solid walls, floors, and carved ceilings with domes extending heavenward. Even a mere whisper into the wall of St. Paul’s “Whispering Gallery” can be heard by the listener on the opposite side. Instead, I find myself sensing an immense richness in these places. While I can never know the precise reason for other visitors’ attendance nor their country of origin, I do know we’re all still – silent and yet very much alive.
As a music teacher, one of the most difficult concepts to instill in my students is silence. All too often a student will shorten or ignore a “rest”, a symbol that indicates a precise break in the sound. I’ll gently remind them that even though they may not be producing a sound in that moment, the rhythm of the music is still continuing. I ask them to imagine the listener’s experience when the overall rhythm of the music is disrupted by not observing a “rest.” It not only allows the musician to breathe, but, in many cases, it completes a musical thought for both the performer and listener. Punctuation serves a similar role when we’re reading a story or article. Imagine this very devotional without periods and commas. Would you know when to stop and reflect upon an idea? You know the story continues, but it’s helpful to come to a pause.
This scripture reminds us to stop and save a few moments for silence. Much like my experience in the famed “Whispering Gallery” of St. Paul’s, if we are still, a whisper can sound like an exaltation or shout. Those moments while kneeling in prayer alongside people of many faiths and countries at Westminster felt all the more full amidst the silence. Why not save a few moments for being silent and listening for the Lord’s great exaltation? In many cases, it may arrive only as a whisper or gentle tugging at the soul, but if we save just a few moments for stillness, we’ll be reminded of His presence. Perhaps this saving of moments for stillness might become our own way of retreating to God’s fortress amidst the hustle and bustle of our society.
Almighty God, give us the diligence to seek you, both in our day-to-day, but especially in the quiet. Give us the patience to wait for your whisper and a heart to meditate on you. May our outward and inward selves proclaim you and that we might find a renewed spirit with each moment we seek you. Amen.