By Fran Schultz
Reading: Mathew 14: 22-23 and Philippians 4: 8-9
There is a hymn in our hymn book (Voices United) entitled “Come and Find a Quiet Centre.” It’s a well-known hymn and one that we sing together at least a few times a year. It is a hymn that reminds us of the importance of silence. In fact, it names silence as, “a friend who guide us,” in the second verse. I don’t know the story beyond the hymn, but whenever I hear it, I am always reminded of a passage from scripture found in the gospel of Mark 1: 35. Just before this passage Jesus is described as be overwhelmed with the needs of the community and then the passage reads, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he (Jesus) got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”
In the earlier years of my ministry and adult life, I never took much stock in the need for silence and quiet places to reflect. In fact, it maybe wasn’t until the pandemic started that I began to understand just how much quiet time away, can really be of benefit to us all. Our household is quite loud; its is truly amazing just how much noise our three boys can produce, but its not just the physical noise that we need a break from, its also the noise that clutters our hearts and minds on a daily basis.
For example, this forth wave of Covid 19 has brought with it great challenge to our health facilities, but also to our relationships as more people than before are becoming quite vocal about what is the best course of action. I am sure you may have friends or family who have differing opinions on vaccinations, treatments, or the fairness of government action in regards to vaccine passports. Sometimes those conversations can remain civil, but more often than not they become quite loud, stressful and all consuming. Add to that, the worries of daily life, the concerns about finances, our relationships, our personal and collective health, even our hopes and dreams for the days ahead and the volume level in our minds and hearts can at times be overwhelming.
Last week I noticed a moment in my own life where I literally hit a wall of noise and found myself desperately seeking out a quiet place. A place where my phone wouldn’t ring, and my kids arguing could not be heard, a place where I could work through some conflicts in personal relationships, a place where I could simply be. Sometimes it takes work to find places like that, not just physical places, but places in our own being where we give ourselves permission to step away from it all.
Doing so though, is incredibly important. The reason being, as the song suggest is that when we find that quiet place, hope begins to enter. “Come a find a quiet centre, in the crowded lives we lead, find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed.” I believe it is this exact reasoning that caused Jesus to step away. He was overwhelmed at the start of his ministry and needed to refocus, to find the hope and the drive to do what was next. We all need that, even in the midst of our busy days, some time in the here and now, to quiet the noise in our midst.
I would like to invite you this week, in this beautiful fall season that we have before us to find a quiet centre and as you do hear these words from this wonderful hymn, “Silence is the friend you claims us, cools the heat and slows the pace, God it is who speaks and names us, knows our being face to face, making space within our thinking, lifting shade to show the sun, raising courage when were shrinking, finding scope for faith begun.”
So many of those metaphors speak to me. Making space within our thinking for something other than worry and dread. Slowing the pace of our minds and our physical bodies, so that we can catch up. Raising courage when our work, our relationships, and even life itself feels shrinking. That is what a quiet place offers to us and more; finding it and tending to it on a regular basis, does not mean that you are lazy and or just enjoy extra long coffee breaks, rather it is good self care and something we all need on a regular basis. May you find the courage to quiet your mind and heart, to hear God’s word anew again, and in the quiet may hope find a place to enter and offer new life.
FRESHEN THE FLOWERS, SHE SAID
A poem by Mary Oliver
So I put them in the sink, for the cool porcelain was tender,
And took out all the tattered and cut each stem on a slant,
Trimmed the black and raggy leaves and sent them all…
roses, delphiniums, daisies, irises, lilies,
and more whose names I don’t know, in bright new
gave them a bounce upward at the end to let them take their
own choice of position, the wheels, the spurs, the little shreds of the buds.
It took to do this, perhaps 15 minutes.
15 minutes of music with nothing playing.