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Coffee with Warren: Speak, Lord, in the stillness

Last week’s column on how the violence in recent headlines has renewed my respect for silence as we find shelter under God’s protective wings, brought to mind that century-old hymn, Speak, Lord, in the Stillness .
Warren Harbeck June 16 image

Last week’s column on how the violence in recent headlines has renewed my respect for silence as we find shelter under God’s protective wings, brought to mind that century-old hymn, Speak, Lord, in the Stillness.

But before I reflect on that, allow me to share a response from our longtime coffee companion Zabi Behin, formerly of Cochrane: He sent us a Baha’i prayer that celebrates the protective wings of God as the ultimate refuge for humanity.

“O my Lord! Thou knowest that the people are encircled with pain and calamities and are environed with hardships and trouble. Every trial doth attack man and every dire adversity doth assail him like unto the assault of a serpent. There is no shelter and asylum for him except under the wing of Thy protection, preservation, guard and custody.”

Thank you, Zabi. There is indeed a stillness in that protection, a comfort for the soul, which brings me back to Grimes’ beautiful hymn: “Speak, Lord, in the stillness, While I wait on Thee; Hush’d my heart to listen, In expectancy.”

But in this noisy world, how do we find that stillness? This was the question another of our longtime readers, Jim Amsing, retired police chaplain formerly of Cochrane, addressed in our April 29, 2021 column:

“In our busy world with instant communication and the tyranny of cell phones, finding the space for silence is challenging,” Jim said. “With the call for social distancing in recent times we’ve had an opportunity to find that space for stillness.

“God calls us to pray without ceasing. With a right disposition of the heart that is open to communication and intimacy with God, our lives become a prayer. The Greek monks of Mt. Athos practice interior prayer that is continual while they are awake, even during external speech. This type of interior prayer takes a lot of persistence, practice, and stillness of spirit.”

As the hymnwriter so well put it, it’s about hushing the heart to listen. But this requires discipline, Jim said. “Our soul needs time for reflection, tranquility, and openness to hear the voice of God internally. Without being still we can’t hear the whisper of our Father’s voice. We need quiet to recognize what the message of hope is.

“We humans are the barrier to communication with God. In all the busyness, confusion and noise of life we find it hard to carve out space for what our soul really requires. Internal peace, tranquility, and calm can only be experienced through silence that anticipates revelation.

“God speaks to us through nature, guardian angels, sacred scripture, prayer, church, family and friends, inspired persons, and in the quiet whisper in our inner being. He wishes to have an intimate relationship with us and has given each one of us the gift of free will to choose if we desire this intimacy.”

As Rabbi Shaul Osadchey concluded so wisely in our May 6, 2021 column: “In these turbulent times of confusion and conflict, may each of us strive to find that still, small voice that beats inside and that has the power to reconnect us to the Source of all Inspiration who brings hope, courage, and fulfillment to life.”

Yes, “Speak, Lord, in the stillness, While I wait on Thee; Hush’d my heart to listen, In expectancy.”