These thoughts, along with many others have been mulling around my mind and in my conversations for months now, allowing me time to process and experience the realities of what I have been learning.
In the last year, I have often heard myself proclaim that God is silent.
I have said that I don't hear anything from God because of the silence.
So I took it upon myself to sit with the silence. Rather than trying to fill it with noise and my own words I realized that I too needed to become silent. I needed to listen deeply.
When I took the time to put down my phone, to turn off my music, to breathe deep and be still, to sit and wait, I found that the silence was not so silent.
I have often falsely attributed God's silence to God's absence. Recently, again and again, I am confronted with God's overwhelming and all-encompassing presence. Silence is how it feels but not necessarily the reality of what is true.
In the silence I have discovered a few things.
Silence speaks beyond what words can.
Silence is loud.
Silence is full.
Silence is saying everything.
I love to be outside. Recently I have been spending a lot of time at the ocean. One evening I went to go watch the sunset by the ocean. I was frustrated with what I had perceived as God's silence. I looked out at the ocean and paused. It wasn't saying anything specific and yet as I quieted myself, suddenly the silence around me was saying everything. I could hear the wind blowing through the long grasses. I could see the pink sky reflected in the ripples on the water. I could hear the rocks clinking together as the waves washed over them. I could feel the chill of the cool evening air on my skin. I had to stop and silence myself before I could notice these things and "hear" in a different way.
In Romans 1:20 it says, "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made." God is continually declared and proclaimed in the world around me. God is present with me everywhere I go. Sometimes words don't cut it. I am continually reminded of this every time I look around at God's creation.
Lately I have realized that perhaps God is so close and God's presence so overwhelming that I cannot articulate it because it is so strong and overwhelms my senses. In the silence God sits with me, waits with me, weeps with me, laughs with me, walks with me. God is with me. God's silent presence speaks to his faithfulness, his grace, his loving-kindness.
Throughout Scripture, God promises that when we seek Him, we will find Him. At times I have had a very narrow perspective and understanding of what it has meant to find God or to hear from God and at times I felt this promise wasn't actually true. In moments when I step outside and step back from my own limited understandings, I realize, as the prophet Isaiah discovered and proclaimed, that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so God's ways are higher than my ways and God's thoughts higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). God speaks and acts in ways I cannot always decipher or understand. Sometimes God speaks so deeply to my heart that I cannot fully understand or comprehend it but as I sit in the silence with God, I trust that God is fully present and is meeting me.
So, God may in fact be silent, but God is not absent. God is fully present and God's presence "speaks" if I take the time to listen.
I leave you with this quote from Mother Teresa: