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Sound of silence

Sound of silence

Something to read

He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

- 1 Kings 19:11-12.

Something to think about

It was on my first day of training at theological college that I learned some of the stats and stories of clergy stress and its consequences. What a start! But it’s true that many are struggling in ministry, and thinking carefully about self-care, boundaries and managing internal and external pressure is a healthy practice in all walks of life.

Elijah may not have known much of the language of burnout and breakdown, but he certainly knew the experience. Acutely alone, exhausted and ready to die, Elijah was first given by God three vital aids to recovery: sleep, food and water. Revived enough to engage further, he was then sent to a mountaintop to experience God’s presence more fully: through the sounds of sheer silence.

For extroverts in particular, of which I am one, the idea of silence can be daunting. ‘Give us the drama of earthquake and fire’, we might cry! No doubt at times, God does meet us in high-octane environments and through the buzz of community. But if you find yourself beginning to struggle, try tuning out the noise for a while. A quiet day, a quiet hour, or even a quiet few minutes can be a great help in reconnecting with God. Oh, and don’t forget to eat, drink and take a nap too.

Something to do

Plan a little quiet time with God – perhaps more silence than you’d normally experience. If you’re not used to being alone, try few hours out in the countryside with a notebook, flask and snacks.

Something to pray

God of refreshing, thank you for your still, small voice which speaks in the silence. Help me to be aware of my own needs for rest and boundaries, and to find in you the calm and care I need. Amen.

Today’s contributor is Rev Claire Jones