A number of years ago, our extended family gathered for a weekend in a cabin in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Inside it was hot and noisy with conversation. Outside there were cool fall temperatures; yellow leaves, red poison ivy, misty and quiet.

I needed quiet and calm. I needed to listen for God.

There was very little human sound outside. In fact, my own steps and movements of clothing seemed like a loud interruption. So I sat on a narrow, winding strip of secluded road. That was where the sounds and sights greeted me.

Owls, chickadees, crows, cooper’s hawks, blue jays, flickers, pileated woodpeckers, turkeys, titmice, catbirds, chipmunks, kingfishers, chipping sparrows, spider webs, sassafras, redbuds, leaves falling, nuts dropping, goats with bells, and cows mooing. Nature can be noisy.

The hillsides were covered with trees with thick colorful foliage, but a single falling yellow leaf caught my eyes. A bird jumped from branch to limb. Tiny movements, tiny sounds.

Silence isn’t so. Is there ever silence? How can one silence the voice in one’s mind? If there is an absolute absence of external sound, the voice in one’s mind seems exceedingly loud. There is no way to stop that sound.

So, how does one guide the inner voice to whisper, to express only valuable words or thoughts? To stay focused on the purpose before one? For me that purpose is to listen for and be aware of God’s presence. But my own inner voice interrupts, makes inappropriate comments, strives to change the subject, yammers about nothing particular, and has the attention span of a five year old.

Controlling my inner voice is difficult. It’s like there are two personalities in there; the inner child who just loves to talk and have attention, and the inner adult who tries to keep control. Often the child wins, and often it is the child who learns something fascinating; the way a dew drop magnifies the veins on a leaf, the pollen-filled legs of a bumblebee, tiny yellow flowers and small purple asters in the ditch. But always, the adult is listening for a deeper meaning; where is God in the small stuff, do I magnify God in my life, am I carrying the pollen of the gospel?

Everyone decided to go on a walk; some ran, some walked, some rode. I walked but lingered behind the happily noisy group until they were far enough ahead that I could no longer hear them. Again, trying to find space to be alone with God. But if I can’t see, hear, smell, taste or touch God, with what sense do I know Him? How do I become aware of Him?

It’s got to be soul-sense; the Spirit of God within that is in tune with the Father, and who whispers to both my inner-perpetual-motion-child and my seeking-calm-and-purpose-adult. The Spirit provides the awesome sense that bestows the inner surety that when I am still and seek to draw near to God, I discover that God…is…always…near.

I pray that you can find those places to rest in God’s presence,

Pastor Deb