I’m expressing solidarity with Mexico, for the earthquake in Chiapas and Oaxaca. No word from U.S. government of support for their neighboring country down here to the south, but also no word of support for the red state of Montana which is going up in flames. No blame here — honest. So much stuff going on, words and more words just seem — noisy. As usual, it’s the actions of individuals that are most meaningful — heartfelt, responsive. They always speak more than words.
I have to admit a short, ironic laugh escaped me at Frank Koughan‘s cryptic Facebook post the other day: “Oops. Maybe we shouldn’t have opened that seventh seal.” But it made me go reread Revelation, and no I’m not going to pontificate like some evangelical, hellfire and brimstone preacher about the open-to-many-interpretations-and-has-anyone-ever-heard-of-metaphor words you can find there. What did catch my eye, though, was the verse at the beginning of Chapter 8: “And when he had opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”
Really? Silence? That wouldn’t be hell. I would call that heaven! Just QUIET!
Now I happen to be one of those heaven-here-on-earth types — you know, taking Jesus literally when he said “the kingdom of heaven is within you?” Between you and me, my heaven-on-earth has been severely challenged recently, and I admit that probably most of it has been the noise in my own head about what/who I perceive “out there” on many fronts.
I need to keep reading, researching, listening, going deep. Praying. I’ve learned when I do that last one first, and above all, it comes to me how I can be most effective — what practical steps to take that would be most helpful.
But I need mental quiet to do that, and if I’m railing or ranting or reacting, I’m not much good to anyone. I remember a story about Elijah going through earthquake, wind, and fire and being told God wasn’t it them, but in a still, small voice. That’s the voice I want to hear.
OK, so shut up, monkey mind. Let me hear that QUIET. I know it’s there, right in the eye of the storm. It is a LOW pressure system, isn’t it? Sort of the opposite of the high pressure stuff we’ve been assaulted with? Is there metaphor there? Don’t know.
And this comes: A Fresh Air interview Terry Gross did with someone in the week following 9/11. It was a woman who was on the 98th floor of the first tower when the jet crashed through the window of the office she was working in. Her assessment of the experience has stayed with me all these years, and I quote as I remember it: “It wasn’t until the next day that I realized how horrible it was,” she said, “when I saw it on television.” (These are mine: !!)
She continued: “But in that moment, in all the chaos, all I was conscious of was the great love of those around me. We were checking on each other, caring for each other. Everyone was so calm. That’s what I remember most.”
That’s a first hand perspective from the middle of disaster. I think it’s worth contemplating — quietly. Shh. Just think about it.
One more Bible quote, this one from Isaiah, who usually has a lot of words of comfort —
“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength:”