Each month, a member of the board will share a reflection on the Soul Matters monthly theme and the state of the church. The theme for December is Stillness. This month’s post is offered by Cathy Bujold.
We seem to be in a season of stark contrasts.
On the one hand, there is so much silence. My husband Dan and I spent a quiet Thanksgiving without extended family – without my parents, without our children and grandchildren. Our church building, built to allow us to gather together and to sing together, is instead silent for the most part. And then of course there is the silence of those whose lives have been snuffed out by the pandemic . . . and the silent toll this pandemic is taking on all of us . . . Too much silence.
And at the same time, there is so much noise. The cacophony of the election and its aftermath. Jarring social media posts. Incessant clamoring of competing points of view. The dissonant diatribes of a divided nation . . . Too much noise.
Last Sunday during worship Lois Saunders selected the poem “To Worship” by Jacob Trapp which was read by Gary Charles. There was a line in that poem that particularly stood out for me. “To worship is to listen in the face of the storm to the still small voice inside.”
The phrase still small voice originates from a Bible story. In the Old Testament, Elijah went looking for God. He experienced a massive wind storm, an earthquake, and fire but God was not in those displays of power. Instead, Elijah heard the still small voice of God in the stillness afterwards. There are many interpretations of that story and even much discussion about what the original Hebrew words were intended to convey.
Stillness was an important concept to Henry David Thoreau who went to Walden Pond seeking spiritual regeneration through harmony with nature. He described serene moments when his mind was like “the calmness of the lake when there is not a breath of wind”.
And stillness is present in our hymn “Voice Still and Small”:
“Voice still and small, deep inside all, I hear you call, singing. In dark and rain, sorrow and pain, still you remain singing. Calming my fears, quenching my tears, through all the years, singing.”
Inner stillness is what is accessible when we turn away from oppressive silence and blaring noise, when we let go of what we want in the future, or regrets from the past, and are open and listening to the unfolding of the present moment.
My wish for you in this season is to cherish the precious and beautiful moments of stillness in your life. Listen to the still small voice inside.
— Cathy Bujold
Vice President, UUCM Board of Trustees