“Be still, and know that I am God!” – Psalm 46:10 (NRSV)
Our church feeds people. Every Wednesday night we provide a community meal, better known in the neighborhood as a “soup kitchen.” We get all kinds of folks, and occasionally someone arrives who’s had a bit too much to drink or a particularly difficult day. They get into a fight, and someone calls for me, the pastor, to try to bring about some peace.
Early on, I thought the most effective way to break up such a fight involved strength and force. I’d arrive in the middle of the fight, loud and threatening. It didn’t really work well. Then someone suggested getting quiet in order to be heard. Over time, I’ve learned that when there’s a lot of chaos, even that angriest person is far more apt to respond to quiet confidence. It’s counterintuitive, but lowering my voice often gets their attention. And the struggle to hear what I’m saying often creates enough space to restore a bit of calm to the situation.
Life is full of noise: responsibilities, obligations, and often a television in the background. It can make it hard to listen for God. Perhaps that’s why God seems to speak most often in a still, small voice. It’s a level of volume that might help us to slow down, get quiet, and be still.
Holy One, speak to me in a quiet voice so that I, in turn, must slow down in order to listen.
Ann is co-pastor of the Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn (UCC/RCA) and Chaplain for the Fire Department of the City of New York.