He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces 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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19: 11–13
A third theme of Celtic Christianity is silence and stillness. In the passage above, Elijah is hiding from Jezebel and Ahab, when he is called to stand before God. There is a strong wind, an earthquake and a raging fire. All noisy and powerful, but as the passage states – God was not in them. Then came silence – and in the silence was God.
God is with us in the busyness of our lives, in all the noise and the chaos, yet we hear God better in the stillness and silence. I don’t find silence and stillness very easy or even very comfortable; perhaps you do. Yet if we spend some time in silence and stillness, we can feel God strongly, and hear more clearly what God has to stay to us.
A hymn that speaks to us of stillness and silence is ‘Dear Lord and father of mankind’ (Singing the Faith 495) by John Whittier. One of the verses speaks of “dews of quietness”, and invites God to “speak through the earthquake, wind and fire” with a “still, small voice of calm”.
God of stillness and silence,
Quieten our minds;
Calm our hearts;
Soothe our souls.
As we take a time in the silence with you,
Speak Lord: we are listening…