Sunday, March 24, 2013

Letting Go Of Silence

I was asked to write a "Lenten Reflection" about "Letting Go Of Silence" and read it during the Palm Sunday church service.  I revisited all the stages of public speaking anxiety, from envisioning myself fainting in the middle of it, to hoping that I would wake up with laryngitis and thus have a justifiable excuse for backing out at the last minute.  Given the topic, it would just be too ridiculous to ask somebody else to read what I had written.  I think I read the first paragraph as quickly as the fast-talking friend of Vanessa on The Cosby Show (remember her?) but I calmed down and managed to stop shaking in my boots (literally, I was wearing boots and shaking in them) by the end of it.  
Happy Palm Sunday.

Letting go of silence might, at first, seem a peculiar topic for Lent. Silence allows for reflection, uninterrupted thoughts and prayers, and space for the imagination.  True silence brings focus to the soul, all too often bombarded with competing messages, from the morning alarm clock to the glow of the smartphone in the dark, providing one last email/facebook/twitter check at night.  Silence is golden, or so the saying goes.  But gold does not tarnish, unlike silence.  When does silence create unhealthy rhythms in our lives?  When does silence become a self-imposed barrier, an excuse, a sign of apathy, or a tool of self-reliance?  How do we let go of silence?

I sometimes encounter people who are in the midst of experiencing crises similar to events in my personal history: a spouse’s battle with cancer, miscarriage, or illness.  It is tempting to distance myself from their experiences, to stay silent or offer quiet platitudes.  To let go of silence is to become vulnerable, and risk reopening old wounds that have been methodically bandaged in layers of silence.  Letting go of the protection that silence affords, however, can bring healing not only to others, but to ourselves as well.

Letting go of silence has incredible power to stand in the way of injustice.  Our world is filled with opportunities every day to break silence and speak for those who have no voice.  In high school, there was a girl named Hope, but as far as I can remember, her high school days were filled with anything but.  She was the punchline of jokes, and the target of practical jokes.  She was the first to be picked on, and the last to be picked for teams.  Those who befriended her away from the eyes and ears of her tormentors were silent in the times when she desperately needed them.  Silence tarnished those years for her.

On a larger scale, we have the opportunity to stand with and support historically marginalized and mistreated people groups in our country.  We can let go of silence to prevent irreversible destruction of our environment, God’s creation.

God creates spaces of silence in this world, like the muffled silence after a snowfall.  But God also created this world by speaking it into being, and He

 has given us the gift of a voice too, however we choose to use it.  To let go of silence is to take a risk, and instead embrace vulnerability, to speak up for those with no voice, and to bring comfort, hope, and healing to others, and sometimes, unexpectedly, to ourselves in the process.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Unexpected Gifts

Today was a challenge.   

A few weeks ago, I snipped open a bag of bok choy for my stir fry, and found a small bunch of yellow flowers sprouting from one bunch.  At dinnertime tonight, my almost two-year old wanted nothing else than for me to wrap him up in a blanket, and sing to him while dancing around in the kitchen with him  in my arms.  I gladly postponed sitting down to eat for as long as he was happy to dance with me.  After a day in which my children required much more patience than I was willing (perhaps able?) to give, this moment was the unexpected cluster of flowers in my dinnertime chaos.  

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