First Congregational Church Winter Park
Daily Meditation: "Sheer Silence"
"… and after the fire a sound of sheer silence." - 1 Kings 19:12
This passage from I Kings comes from an account of God appearing to Elijah. There’s a wind that tears apart mountains, an earthquake, and a fire, and then “sheer silence.” It’s a remarkable description, and one that brings to mind a profound truth about spiritual experience.
I have been thinking a lot about “Chariots of Fire” lately since actor Ben Cross, who played British runner Harold Abrahams in the film, passed away a few weeks ago. “Chariots” continues to be a spiritual experience for me whenever I watch it, but my very first time was in the theater when it came out when I was 12. It was one of those films that the audience sat and stayed in their seats even after the film was over as Vangelis’ amazing soundtrack played over the end credits. And then, the lights came up and there was silence...and people still sat there. The whole movie was settling in on the audience, and it came in sheer silence.
More recently, watching “Hamilton” reminded me of the same. After all the energy and amazing music I was expecting a big ending. What I didn’t see coming was the show ending with a singular, mesmerizing, enigmatic gasp from Eliza Hamilton.
In both of these instances, the entire experience of the film and the musical led to moments of sheer silence in which the total impact of the experience began to settle into my mind, heart, and spirit. The experience couldn’t be fully embraced and processed in the glorious music and activity, the noise and the action...it came in the silence that followed. Is it any wonder so many of us seek moments of silence and meditation when we’re on vacation? To sit and stare at the sunset over the ocean, or a mountain lake, the silence of an early morning ski run, whatever and wherever it may be, we often find the cacophony of life begins to process and we can begin to find meaning and understanding in the sheer silence of it all.
Seek your moments of sheer silence and see if you don’t find something profound there.
God of Silence and Song, may we find meaning and your sacred Spirit in the sheer silences of life.