Lockdown Liturgy: Silence
I’m wrapped in a dressing gown I don’t yet need… the late sunrise the only indication that summer is supposed to be over in Durban. I have forgotten to turn on the lights on the verandah, and so I sit in the darkness looking out at the still-dark sky. The usual sound of droning traffic has made way for the rumble of the sea.
It is Lockdown Day 11 in South Africa, and I am desperate to hear the voice of God. There is so much noise in my head. I squint into the reddening clouds and strain my ears to hear.
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge for you, and you did not weep.”
Is that you, God? I don’t understand. Are you saying I’m difficult to please?
For how long have we been crying on the merri-go-round, like overwhelmed children begging the others to let us off? Dizzy at the pace of the world, we have longed for everything to just stop.
And then it did.
But in the delirium of being free from the merri-go-round, we rushed for the swings, busy back and forth and going nowhere. And still, dizzy.
We’re rushing to get our businesses online, our sermons online, our news online. Reinvent ourselves. Rework routines. Who was the mocking, chortling child pushing the merri-go-round anyway? The honeymoon phase of lockdown is coming to an end. They told us to get into routines and do our exercise, and dress for work. We’re free from the merri-go-round but we’re still spinning. Spinning disconnected, spinning out of control.
To what shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace, calling to one another, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge for you, and you did not weep.
Difficult to please. Expecting God to dance to the tune we play. Running around creating worlds, and wondering why he doesn’t fill them.
I sigh into the silence of the dawn, thoughts crowded with the chaos of yesterday, the concerns of tomorrow.
Wait for the dizziness to settle.
I will find myself when I find myself IN HIM. He is unmoving. Always in the present.
Time intersects with eternity in the present.
That is where we find God. That is where we find our apportioned grace. Tomorrow will only ever have worries, or hope without substance. Today, faith, hope and love remain. But the greatest of these is love, because it alone can be fully realised in the present, and so will remain for eternity.
My mind quietens as the sky lightens. I find the verse in Luke 7, and I keep paging. And in the silence, God speaks about the light in our souls - how it can become darkened by undue noise.
“Take care then, how you hear,” He warns, and a few pages later, again, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. Take care then, how you see.”
If the ‘light’ that enters your eyes and ears is nothing more than darkness and noise, your body is full of darkness. Jesus knows that daily we get to pre-program our own thoughts. My head is full of noise. Some dark.
“If your body if full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
Lockdown Liturgy. An opportunity to step off the merri-go-round and settle the dizziness. Not in grand plans for tomorrow, but in actual practices in the present.
Let us start with : SILENCE.
Let us start with finding the place of solitude, no matter how many voices we share our homes with, no matter how many opinions scream at us from our screens. Let us protect the lamps to our souls, feeding on light. Let us measure the intake into our souls, not gorging on more than we need, eating local.
And once again, Silence has taught me everything I need to know. Present practice leads to growing peace. Today, I will watch what I eat. I will watch what I read, what I hear, what I think. I will program light into my soul. Yes, I might still make plans for tomorrow. But I will start with the present; I will love in the present; I will parent in the present. I will resist self-spinning, speeding into tomorrow, I will choose to live where time intersects with eternity.