Saturday, November 29, 2008


I have been given the gift of silence for the past few weeks. And I have squandered it. No, I have run from it. The week 1 advent post over at the Rabbit Room is about Zechariah, who was made mute for 9 months before the birth of his first son John, who would become the Baptizer. It started me thinking about silence this way, specifically the following passage:

Though bittersweet, this silence was a gift. Zechariah was given time to think, time to remember the words and the frame of the Guardian of Heaven whose apparition, for some reason, was easier to accept than the words he spoke.

To worship God is to dwell on who He is; to consider His handiwork. (Job 37:14) How can this occur without stillness? Stillness is a discipline God gives to cultivate minds that can hold and turn over complicated thoughts without losing them. Silence is a gift God gives to Zechariah, and the old man puts it to use.

I have filled the silence with everything but God. Books, games, television, internet, riddles, music -- parts of some of those activities I clearly label "sin." But I am beginning to think that my entire mode of life this break I've been running, running away from silence, running away from God.

I've been hiding behind the pretext "working on ROCUP" (ROChester Urban Plunge), which I have been working on, but less than diligently, and less than I have likely led folks to believe.

Two days ago was thanksgiving day. In answer to the traditional question, I conjured an emotional answer: I'm thankful that I have a choice to eat today. I'm thankful that I serve a God who loves justice, and is willing to stand and fight for it himself (Isaiah 59, in particular verses 15b-19), that he hears the cry of the poor.

And I mean it when I say that. I am thankful for those things, in ways I've never been thankful for them before. It's hard to be thankful for something you've never considered. But the genuineness of my gratitude has a flair of hypocrisy. God is far away, and I have no desire to be closer to him. I'm running. I've felt tired the last two weeks even though I've had plenty of sleep, and it's not the kind of tiredness that a runner might feel after pushing to sprint that last 100 yards of a long run. It's tiredness like carrying a big rock a days walk west one day, and a days walk east the next on a vast plain of sameness, for no reason at all -- and repeating the practice for days and weeks and months until you're not really sure if months have become years and the most important thing in the world is whether today is east or west and even that you can't remember and so you start one direction and second- and third-guess yourself till sunset though it's futilely meaningless to begin with: Beleaguered, and add a bit of looking over your shoulder: Pursued.

How long has it been since I've prayed alone more than a few sentences at a time? And so many believe they can count on my prayers. How long has it been since I let the scripture that I have (until this weekend) daily read actually affect my life? Scripture seems no different that Shakespeare in my processing of it, and poorer in literary quality.

Not sure how to end this. It's certainly not over.

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