Theme – Sacred Conversations – Careful Listening
Scripture – I Kings 19:11-12 So He said, "Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.
Psalm 62:1 - For God alone my soul waits in silence
In this particular story Elijah is deeply troubled. He needs an Easter morning and he feel stuck on Good Friday. Previous to today's verses he has obeyed the call of God to confront the political and religious leaders in their cruel and unjust idolatry. And he seemed initially to have won a great victory. But the political leaders come back with a threat to his own life. They conspire to have him killed. And he runs with fear.
God questions him more than once, 'What are you doing here Elijah?' God asks. And there is no doubt there is a bit of a challenge to the question. Why are you here and not there where I wanted you to be? But as we have discussed earlier this week, questions are meant to open up sharing and reflection. God, at least I believe, does care about Elijah's fear and despair and invites him to share. And God does want to lead Elijah out of fear toward hope, out of Good Friday to Easter. And these questions are meant to do just that. What are you doing here? Not such a bad question for any of us to ask ourselves upon occasion.
Then God 'speaks' to Elijah. But as our reading today reveals, it is not in a grand and unmistakable way. It is a 'gentle blowing,' sometimes translated 'whisper.' And this got me to thinking about the verse from Psalm 62, 'my soul waits in silence.' As we have been reminded, Holy Conversations move us from fear to hope, from despair to life, but they can be challenging. They challenge us to listen carefully to stories that subvert our dearly held beliefs. They challenge us to incorporate new ideas and behaviors into our lives. They challenge us to be open and vulnerable and merciful to the vulnerability of others. They challenge us to embrace questions and even uncertainty instead of clinging to answers. All of which leads me to conclude that the spiritual source of Holy Conversations is patient silence with God. It is in prayer and meditation that we learn how to engage in Holy Conversation. This takes time and devotion and patience. We all live busy lives and carving out moments to sit and listen can be difficult. But our stories all seem to reveal that when we make listening, for God and to one another, we are already on the Emmaus road to Easter Joy.
Prayer - Let all my conversations today and going forward be rooted in the conversation of my spirit with you. Teach me how to listen for your voice in my interaction with others and not just those like me, who agree with me. Teach me to listen for your voice in scripture and song, in the beauty of nature and the love of friends. Give me the courage and strength to carve out a time of silence to listen for your voice in stillness, so that every conversation I engage in is built on the foundation of this peace.