While I usually write about music and the sounds that we hear, today I am writing about silence. We often think of silence as the absence of everything, but how many thoughts and emotions are in our head in moments of silence?
What are moments of silence that you remember? The one I remember the most vividly from this year is the moment between my doctor saying “We have a baby!” when Amelia was born and when I finally heard my baby’s first cry. I remember the deafening silence of an empty church, as Pastor Wayne and I led worship after worship into a camera during the Covid-19 lockdown. I always look forward to the short silence between the singing of Silent Night in the magical darkness of a candlelit church and hearing the final blessing. There is the blessed silence of going to sleep after a long day. Many musical pieces silence the accompaniment of piano, organ, or orchestra to show the power of the human voice (such as Mother God, You Gave Me Birth, the anthem I chose for Millie’s baptism, or The Dream Isaiah Saw, an anthem from last year’s Lessons and Carols) or have moments of silence all together.
Silence can be full of desperation, gladness, exhaustion, gratitude, power, and prayer. In the story of Elijah, he meets God in the silence, after looking for God in the earthquake and in the fire. Thousands of years later, it is harder than ever to find silence in a world full of noise, technology, and busy schedules. How can you find a moment of stillness and silence? What thoughts will be in that moment?
In our hymnal, there is a hymn (ELW 460) we don’t sing too often (but maybe we should change that!) that describes how moments of silence, of the “now” ultimately lead us to God:
Now the silence,ELW 460
Now the peace,
Now the empty hands uplifted;
Now the kneeling,
Now the plea,
Now the Father’s arms in welcome.
May our days have moments of silence filled with peace and welcome.