Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Pentecost 17
September 20, 2015
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3, NRSV)
I get up at my usual time and head out to get the morning paper. It’s dark out and the morning is cool. The neighborhood is a still-life of solitude; so quiet, in fact, that when the storm door closes behind me, I hear a tiny click. My mind makes a feeble attempt to convince itself that I have not heard what I just heard … namely the dead bolt slipping back into the lock position. But when I walk back to the door, reality is confirmed … I am locked out … barefoot in a pair of sleep shorts and a tee shirt … while my wife is dead asleep. I am not about to scare her by banging on the door at this early morning hour. I decide to read the paper, only to find I did not pick up my glasses on the way out the door. I can’t walk the neighborhood, since I have no shoes. So … I sit on the steps in front of this culprit of a door, and just enjoy the silence. After about 20 minutes, I decide to move to the back porch, and sit in a more comfortable seat. After a few minutes, on a whim, I try our sliding glass door, knowing that Nancy always locks it. But on this morning … at this opportune moment in time … in this instant of grace … the door is unbelievably unlocked. I am rescued.
I head downstairs to catch a bit of the news and answer a few emails, but find myself pausing for a few moments of reflection. Not anger, nor frustration, nor even chagrin … but a short moment of consideration. I find myself thinking about the variety of ‘noises” hiding behind the silence of that quiet morning. A couple of fairly quiet moths … a squirrel looking for an early bounty of peanuts from my wife’s generous hand … the whisper of leaves in the tree on our front lawn … the clicks of a dog’s toenails on the sidewalk across the street (I can’t really hear the owner who is walking the dog) … a small piece of plastic on a bit of debris along my neighbor’s garage flapping quietly in the breeze … the scratch of the callouses on my heels as I walk on my cement walkway. The noises are always there, of course. I simply have not noticed them in my busy, distracted, normal life.
And these are just a collection of random and meaningless noises. I found myself wondering for a few short moments, about the quiet but far more important noises I may miss every day. A short intake of breath, indicating a moment of fear in an otherwise stoic countenance. A brief quaver in a voice that betrays a moment of deceit in a mostly honest conversation. An habitual scratching of a hand hidden under a sweater that reveals a higher level of anxiety than the placid demeanor indicates. I wonder if I am the effective listener that I people tell me I am. Do I only listen for the obvious? … Do I only attend to that which is observable? … Might I only be hearing what I expect to hear? Maybe my morning experience last week was God’s attempt at a subtle wake up call. A wake up call that invites me to slow down, still the noise in my head, and listen to the world around me.
God of Wisdom, you speak from places of silence and you reveal yourself from apparently dark places. Open my heart and my spirit to receive your direction, especially at those times when I might be confused by the world, or distracted by my own spirit of sin. Bring clarity and focus to my prayer time with you. Amen.