“Come and find the quiet center” – the line from the recent hymn rang through my head as John and I talked about summer worship. We wanted everyone to have a chance to have a taste of the holy silence, the pause of Selah, our Sunday evening worship opportunity. And we looked at the scripture passages for this summer and imagined how to weave silence and meditation into our Sunday morning opportunities.
Then we all saw pictures of children forcibly separated from their parents, lying on the floor of a fenced-in facility, wrapped in a sheet of Mylar. We heard the attorney general defend such practices using Romans 13. Even with the president’s executive order to end family separations, silence seemed so wrong.
If you are as outraged as you should be, I encourage you not to keep silent about this. The Presbyterian Office for Public Witness has assembled a “grassroots toolkit”, and Sherry Trafford has also forwarded a list of legal organizations you may want to consider supporting.
I also encourage you to come to worship this Sunday and consider a different kind of silence. Holy silence happens when we stop to consider how God is moving right now – how the Spirit is shaping us and our world. A friend recently explained Quaker worship saying, “God’s first language is silence. We spend time in [holy] silence so that any word of ours might be worthy of breaking that silence.” (Her explanation left me speechless – and that’s rare for me!)
Given the recent careless and immoral use of words by those in leadership and knowing the commitment of Quaker Friends to witnessing for peace and justice, we can all use some holy silence. Sure, we have other reasons, too. But more than ever we need words worthy of breaking silence. And we need spiritually centered people who know how to use those words.
This summer, may you come and find the quiet center through Western. And may you discover at your spiritual center that God is giving you words – the same God who called on nations to protect women and children and resident immigrants, the same Christ who still calms all kinds of storms with his peace, and the same Spirit who brings unity across dividing lines. May you have the words and energy you need to respond as you are led, and may every word be worthy of breaking the silence.
Grace and peace, to you and to all who need it most,