As I sit down to write today, I can’t help but notice the quiet that surrounds me.
The boys are at school, the husband is at work. None of the conveniences that keep our house running, like the dishwasher, the dryer or the washing machine, are whirling right now. The television’s not on, a podcast’s not streaming in the background. My seven-year old isn’t trying to perfect his Ninjago kick, punch and twirl combination, and my five-year old isn’t singing “Willoughby Wallaby Woo” to his own accompaniment on the piano.
The silence, it seems, is equal parts deafening and exhilarating, terrifying and expectant – because in silence I am found.
My friend Tina oftentimes talks about the power of silent prayer: not only has it changed her interactions with God, but it’s changed the very trajectory of her life. And as I sit here enveloped in my own silence, I don’t doubt it’s all that different in my life as well.
Too often, I lose myself in the noise. When all the machines and gadgets are whirring and chirping and doing their thing, I can get lost by thoughts of mere productivity alone: if I’m not nearly as efficient when it comes to properly using my words as the energy-saving dishwasher is at cleaning a load of dirty dishes, then I must be doing (and therefore being) something wrong.
I can begin to think that my worth entirely consists of the amount of content I produce: the more blog posts I write, the more articles I pitch, the more books I read, the more podcasts I listen to, the more connections I make, the more essays I finish, the more speaking and preaching and conversational events I book, the more, the more, the more … then the better a human I will be.
But, as I’ve said a million times before, this is no way to live. After all, sometimes learning how to color outside the lines simply means renaming and redefining the silence that surrounds me.
A couple of months ago, after reading Katey Zeh’s new book, Women Rise Up, I couldn’t help but think about the act of naming:
[Hagar] gives God a new name, “El-Roi,” the God who sees. Not only is Hagar the first person in the Bible to give God a new name, but she is also the only one to speak it. This is a relational act, not a transactional one. There is great power in this mutual knowingness – God speaks her name, and she speaks God’s name (35).
Even though I’ve read and studied this passage for years now, I never really noticed (or it never really stuck) that it was Hagar who gave God a new name. It was not God who named God’s self, but a real, live, fleshy human being who raised a pointer finger toward the sky and said, You are the God who sees.
Just as you name me, I name you. Just as you relate to me, I relate to you. Just as you know me, I know you in return.
And I don’t know about you, but this kind of excites me – after all, I get to rewrite the script, in a powerful, mutual, knowing sort of way. When it comes to the silence that surrounds me, I speak a new kind of truth.
You are health.
You are restoration.
You are clarity.
You are inspiration.
And you, dear Silence, are beauty – for there is something in this moment, this quiet, this stillness. I get to call it holiness and I get to call it peace, for in this interaction, I am found.
Dare I say this rewriting is just kind of magical?
It is. And I am.
So, what say you? Naming God, naming the silence, naming the whatever-fill-in-the-blank else thing? That’s powerful! PS: Women Rise Up? Definitely give it a go!
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