This is the third in our series on silence and the soul. Angela Kaquitts began this reflective topic in our April 22 column with her photo and words about the soul-refreshing silence she experienced along the shore of Lac des Arcs. Last week, retired police chaplain Jim Amsing shared with us his thoughts on the importance for police officers to embrace intentional silence to counter the toxic trauma they encounter on the job.
This week our longtime coffee companion Rabbi Shaul Osadchey, formerly of Calgary and now living in Houston, Texas, has graciously agreed to share with us his wisdom on the still, small voice encountered in the silence. Informed by his Jewish heritage of Scripture and history, Rabbi Shaul says:
IN TIMES OF TROUBLE and confusion, we often turn to the Bible to discern how the presence of God can be manifest in our lives so that we can gain confidence and guidance to navigate into calmer waters.
In the Scriptures, we discover numerous examples of God appearing in sensational and dramatic ways. God brings about the Flood and then signals a new beginning with the rainbow. God unleashes the plagues upon the Egyptians and then accompanies the Israelites on their journey with a fiery cloud. Upon arriving at Mt. Sinai, the Israelites witness thunder and lightning that preface the revelation of the Torah to Moses.
Noise and wondrous visual effects seem to be the most common format in which we encounter the Divine Presence. So, too, in everyday life do we seem to pay most attention to events that are wrapped in loud verbiage, violence, and the shocking disregard for societal norms. This is so much so that ordinary acts of kindness, compassion, and love are barely noticed. How and where can we converse with God to discover assurance, comfort, and wisdom?
A closer look at the Bible will also point to the many instances of God being present in the midst of silence. In the liturgy of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar, we read how God is with us in the dramatic as well as in the quiet moments of our lives. “The great shofar (blast of the ram’s horn) has sounded. A still, small voice is heard.…You (God) bring everything that lives before You for review. You determine the life and decree the destiny of every creature.”
Indeed, the spark of the Divine that was implanted within each of us according to the account of creation in Genesis means that we can hear the still, small voice (I Kings 19:12) that resonates in our hearts and souls.
Ironically, the pandemic that has plagued us for over a year has also given us the chance to find moments of silence to rediscover our connection to God.
While many rightly point to the mental harm inflicted by social isolation, there is embedded within these challenging times an opportunity to dwell in moments of silence and listen to the voice of God. In the book of Deuteronomy 6:4, the Israelites are commanded, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” The most transformative moments in life are often the ones in which we listen rather than attempt to act, influence, coerce, and change others.
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.
THANKS SO MUCH, RABBI SHAUL. Yes, may we all seek out those moments of silence and find that still, small voice that has the power to reconnect us to the Source of our hope, courage and life fulfillment.
More wisdom from our readers on silence and the still, small voice next week. See you then.
© 2021 Warren Harbeck