What would you do for five minutes of absolute quiet? Or even one ... one minute of silence that allows God to reach into your inner being, into your heart and soul and mind ... and speak there? He's in the whispers, we know.
"Let us be silent," Ralph Waldo Emerson penned, "that we may hear the whisper of the gods ..."
We have changed this slightly to read: Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God.
Elijah experienced it ... that silence that allowed him to hear the whisper of God. "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (I Kings 19)
Yes, we say we want it. We may even have the words of Emerson framed and hanging on a wall in our home (I do...). But do we practice silence?
Silence, in its purest form, is difficult to find. Walk in a garden, completely alone, and what will you hear? Birds singing overhead. Lovely, but it isn't silence. Find the banks of a lake where you can sit completely alone and what do you hear? Water lapping along the shoreline. The occasional bass jumping from the water. Water foul making their occasional appearances. Breath-taking. But not silent.
I have experienced pure silence only once in my life (that I can recall). My friends, Linda and Karl Morgan, took me into the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in California during my visit with them in Oregon. We parked the car and, together, set out on a walk along the trails. We ooh-ed. We ahh-ed. We stopped and took photos.
At some point, we separated, each to find his own way ... his own moment at the base of the giants. I turned at one point and spotted Karl looking up-up-up a massive redwood. I snapped a photo. Then I turned back and continued on. Suddenly I realized ... other than the sound of my own feet trodding along the path, there was NO sound. None. Zero. Zilch.
So I stopped. Completely stopped. And I listened. There was nothing. No sound whatsoever. Total silence. Not a leaf twitched. Not a bird sang. We were so deep within the forest, the sounds of traffic anywhere could not reach us. I closed my eyes and breathed in, then out. It seemed to me that even my own breath became caught in the silence. This is your sanctuary, I prayed without audible words.
And then, the wind stirred. Because I stood in absolute silence, the sound of it--the whisper of it--reached my ears and into heart ... my soul ... my mind.
I had come mouth-to-ear with God. My spirit recognized His Spirit. His ruach (Heb., spirit).
I long for this experience again, but I do not know how to find it and, when I find it, how to reach it.
A few years later I found myself walking the Sequoia Trail in Mount Hermon, CA and, while I had another spiritual experience there, I was still aware of the traffic on the highway. An airplane overhead. The birds in the trees. And I mourned because while I find these silent places difficult to discover, my spirit longs for them still.
So ... I keep looking.