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Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Be Still, My Soul
Chaos: proofreading, feeding the dogs, running out of hair conditioner, asking my husband where I put the...stop.
And then the silence erupts. One time when I was little and my impoverished family took a rare trip to the city, I chose "The Berenstein Bears and Too Much Birthday" to take home. And every once in a while, I think about it. Sister Bear gets overwhelmed by the good things of her birthday and crashes.
I love life. I love the changes, the ups and downs. Every once in a while, my overenthusiasm for, well, everything tanks the spirit, and a tugging ensues. Psyche? Brain chemicals? EQ? I don't know. Maybe it's the Holy Spirit. But my soul is put in the time out chair, my mind laid down for a nap under a favorite blanket, my groove put on pause. The silence erupts.
One time a personality inventory told me that my personality craves balance. Probably because that same personality likes to go hog wild, as I learned my Sophomore year of college. Join what? Of course!
What people call wisdom in me has rarely come from the whirlwind. It comes from the calm after the storm, the nap under the blanket, the deafening silence that longs to embrace my thoughts and shake them free from inner nagging.
You know that verse? "Be still and know that I AM God"? To me, that usually reads, "sit down, shut up, and know." My grandmother, when I was a toddler, cast a knowing glance at Mom and commented about my temperament, "she's going to talk early - and a lot."
I have begun to learn silence. The beauty of stillness. The peace of the absence of information. What do we learn when we're quiet? Much is said these days of dialogue. But what of stillness? Some will always be doers. Some will always be contemplatives. I hope, wherever you find yourself on the pendulum, that there are loud moments of serenity. The kind where you can almost hear the trees growing, as the wood between the worlds shows in "The Magician's Nephew."
Perhaps blasphemy is casting out the still, small voice. Strange things happen in the quiet - the quiet of the room just before the Holy Spirit began banging shutters and ruffling rugs, ensconcing Pentecost on the shoulders of the praying. The quiet of a leafy garden surrounding a bent figure pleading with his Father, drops of blood falling on a rock. The quiet of a cemetary at dawn on the first day of the week. Perhaps a split second of silence as a rock hammered a Philistine in the skull before a deafening roar from the army ensued. Stillness when Abel's blood soaked into the dirt, muddying humanity. I think Paul probably had very few words during his hours of blindness as Saul. Quiet prayers humbly aiming at heaven in repentance for his former blindness.
Does a moment of silence really do it to honor the dead? How can the world be redeemed through blaring noise? Maybe the earth will be reborn not only in the trumpet blast (heard Over the Rhine's Trumpet Child album?), but in the moment right before and after, when anticipation and closure beat the air.
Forget inside voices. Let's be quiet.
posted by Elizabeth Glass-Turner at 11:50 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 5/27/2008 08:18:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    Whoa. Haunting in a spirit-signaling way. I LOVE what and how you write about this way of quiet amidst our loud personalities, loud lives. You said it.

  • At 5/30/2008 11:08:00 PM, Blogger juniper

    When I'm in overdrive, I often feel as though sometimes I come skidding up against a divine Stop Sign.

  • At 6/02/2008 12:47:00 PM, Blogger Lori

    Bitty, this is beautiful. As a very curious, engaged, energetic (and often loud) woman myself, I've found that silence (and God in that silence) radically reshapes me. The discipline hasn't come easily, but the rewards are immense. So I'm off for a few minutes alone...


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