In the weeks after Frans and I returned from our wedding in Florida and our honeymoon in Switzerland, I found myself carefully turning the pages of our church’s bulletin before the service. I was hungry to join in the rhythms of the church, to jump into the bloodstream of the Body.
There were two situations that stood out to me, two “thingies” that I wanted to join.
The first, was an international women’s group. I attend every other Tuesday. (More about that group later.)
The second was a 4-week workshop entitled Still Before God. I know the leader’s name stood out to me…I heard it often spoken by good friends of ours. She was an admired spiritual leader in the church. But there was something about that title. Frans and I are watching our Euros carefully and the class cost a little something, but I felt like the class would be a good guide to me at these first stages of marriage and immigration, but that it would also help me navigate this sharp new identity shift.
Yep…I described this feeling earlier in this blog. Moving countries and cultures and into the process of marriage all at once feels like the self is a shelf on which important (and sometimes breakable) mementos are placed. Pictures in picture frames, snow globes, small boxes for jewelry. A rock or stone from this stream or that mountain. And then, with a move, a marriage, a new home…the shelf tilts, and some of the mementos begin to slide toward the ground.
I think this shift must be important. I think it is important to let some of the mementos slide off, even if it means they break. In fact, I am free to let them go…even more if I am still before God and let him remind me who I am.
I am not equivalent to the mementos…those objects are simply symbols of objects I’ve gathered (moments I’ve had that were special), or choices I’ve made (that have helped me define myself as “me.”) But those mementos are NOT me.
The leader of Still Before God, Elizabeth, played us a clip from the BBC on the first night of workshop. It was a documented experiment of silence. Led by Abbot Christopher Jamison, a Benedictine monk, five ordinary people from Great Britain are taken through an experience of silence, very new for all of them.
Abbot Jamison repeats his conviction throughout the documentary: “Silence leads us to the soul, and the soul leads us to God.”
He recommends that each person carve out twenty minutes per day to sit in silence, often while reflecting on a Psalm or a part of Scripture.
The documentary is interesting and thought-provoking, and I recommend it. It’s free, online, here: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/big-silence/
Since then, I’ve been trying to make silence more a part of my daily life.
It’s good to sit in silence, feeling the warmth of being in God’s presence. Sometimes I light a candle, sometimes I have a cup of tea. I’ve been reading through Isaiah, beginning with Isaiah 35, moving very slowly through the images on the page.
It’s good to sit, and be known. It’s good to sit, and be loved by God. No matter where I am, or how sharply the shelf tilts. The silence soothes.
I know to whom I belong.