HEY!!! THIS IS THE STILL, SMALL VOICE OF GOD, AND I HAVE AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR YOU!!!!!
It doesn’t work that way, does it? God does not try to out-shout all the shouting voices that are constantly yelling at us.
God doesn’t do that.
Our culture encourages and reinforces a particular and very peculiar kind of sleep that is not really sleep at all. It’s not sleep in the sense of rest, refreshment and renewal. Instead, this cultural sleep is more like sleepwalking – it’s a kind of disconnected numbness, an interior deadness, a detachment…
a detachment that loses human engagement and engagement with all of God’s Creation.
This false sleep is not sleep. It’s a kind of hollowed-out wakefulness. It’s a weird and zombie-like state that responds to ongoing streams of external stimuli with no spark of interior connection. It’s a blank set of reflexes that respond to shiny objects and loud noises. It’s a state where there’s only one thing that gets a stronger reaction than shiny objects and loud noises. That one thing is a sense of fear and imminent danger.
Paradoxically, for this kind of sleep, it’s not a matter of relaxing into sleep but rather being stimulated to sleep.
This sleep-that-is-not-sleep is of absolutely no value to us.
But a sleepwalking population is of great value to those who deliberately manipulate events to their own advantage and their own profit. Because a sleepwalking population can be caused to lurch in almost any desired direction through the clever use of shiny objects, loud noises and especially through fear.
Scripture tells us that the voice of God often comes to us in dreams. But this false sleep-that-is-not-sleep doesn’t allow the healing power of dreaming. There is no healing power, because our own dreams are replaced by media-created hallucinations. Hallucinations whose volume-level of noise, violence and, especially fear, has to be increased and increased again, and increased again, to make sure we don’t stir into wakefulness.
These are violent lullabies, and they are toxic.
There’s a further paradox: the only way to wake up from this kind of sleep is to become quiet, to enter into stillness. And in that stillness, to rediscover touch, connection, love, and grace. In that stillness, to hear the heavens declaring the glory of God. To hear the skies proclaiming the work of God’s hands…
Psalm 19 says it clearly:
Day after day the heavens, the skies, and all Creation pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19)
How can we become silent enough to hear these unspoken words of wonder? How can we wake up from the sleep-that-is-not-sleep? How can we recover from the assault of violent lullabies?
Another scripture passage (1 Kings 19:11-13) offers guidance:
The Lord said (to Elijah), “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
There it is: the Lord is not in the violent lullabies. The Lord is not in the noise. The Lord is in the still, small voice that can heal our disease of disconnection.
The Lord is in the silence for each of us, individually, and especially whenever two or three – or more - of us are listening together to those voices of the heavens, the skies, and all creation.
Whenever two or three of us are together…
We need each other.
We need to recognize our companions on our long path back home. We need to share “sightings” of contact, compassion and inspiration. We need to build a personal and – especially - interpersonal spiritual immune system to heal us from our aloneness. To heal a loneliness we may not even have realized we were feeling.
We need to find a peace deep within, and we need to touch that peace in and with other people and other beings. We need to respond together to the Source of love that created us and goes on creating us. We need to hear the whispering voice of God, asking us: “What are you doing here?”
So Please: Touch the hand of a friend, and feel yourself waking up.
And Please: Look into the eyes of someone you love, and listen together for the silence. You will hear God.
And Please: extend your love more widely than you ever thought possible.