Thursday, August 4, 2011

Contemplative Grace in an ADD World

There once was a wise man, who would meditate for hours on end. Then, when he had a moment of enlightenment, he would light a candle and people would gather around his porch as he spoke to them. His words were profound and helpful to all who heard them and the people surrounding his hut began to expect his words every night. 

Then, one day, no enlightenment came to him as he meditated. That evening, he did not light the candle and it seemed curious to those who had looked, expecting to see his summons. The next day, again he mediated, listening and waiting in silence as he had done for years, but no words of wisdom were opened to him. And so, the candle remained unlit. Now, people were growing concerned. They saw the wise man moving within the hut, but he did not approach the candle and light it. Nor did he do so the next night; or the next. And, curiously, each night, greater crowds of people would gather around waiting to see if he would light the candle, hoping that he would share words of wisdom with them. Some even became angry and approached the man, demanding an answer to why he was being silent. At first he said nothing, but after their persistent questions he simply said, "If I hear nothing, I am at leave to say nothing." 

In time, people quit gathering to see if the candle would be lit. They said among themselves that he must have angered the gods of wisdom; or, perhaps he had gotten full of pride and so the gift of wisdom had left him. The kindlier ones suggested that perhaps he was simply getting old and hard of hearing, physically or spiritually. Either way, when the candle was finally lit again, no one was there to see it, because they had all given up.

[I confess that this story is not original, but I am sure that I am not remembering it well. So, it is another's story that I am remembering as it speaks to me.]

The psalmist in Psalm 130 sings repeatedly, "My soul waits for the Lord."

I've often wondered how I would react if a Sunday morning rolled around and I had no "Word of the Lord" to share. I don't mean to wonder what would happen if I didn't do any work and, therefore, came up dry. It is actually a joy for me to translate the text, do word studies and context studies and outlines and intertextual studies of the Scriptures. I geek that stuff. What I'm asking points, not to the work, but to the inspiration: Would I have the courage to be in silence before the congregation that I serve, if I were not inspired by the text? Would I even notice? Or, am I so practiced in the craft of "making something preachable out of a text" that none of us would know? Most importantly, do I even know what it means to say, "My soul waits on the Lord"?

The psalmist, of course, is not talking about his occupation or his expected role as a public speaker. He is crying out of the depths. From the depths his soul waits on the Lord. And, there are times when God is slow to answer, leaving us to wait. Like someone waiting for test results. Like someone waiting for a phone call that assures us that all is well. Like someone walking day after day toward sobriety. Even in the depths, "my soul waits for the Lord."

I fear I am far too much a product of drive-through windows, remote controls, instant messaging, and 24/7 access to information to ever say, "my soul waits for the Lord." Even in prayer, I end up singing with Queen, "I want it all and I want it now."

Oh, my soul, wait on the Lord.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Interesting. That's exactly what I was saying to my wife last night ...


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