Our theme for October is “Why I Believe.”
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”
Genesis 32:24-26 NRSV
Outside my window there is a storm. Trees groan in its wake, loosing leaves into the rain soaked wind, just a couple at a time. They fall and spin, fluttering shadows against a bruised sky. One taps against the windowpane. When I look up it’s gone.
When I crawl into bed, in the quiet, in the darkness, when the only sounds are the inhale and exhale of my breath, the patter of the rain outside, the sleepy rustle of my sheets, there is a Listener. The Holy Spirit that has been felt in all silences since breath was first breathed into lungs. I wonder what He hears in the murmur of my spirit. My thoughts have been growing quieter lately, and my prayers with them, and He is quieter still. I don’t know if He is there, truly, if He is whispering something in the corner of my mind—“William! William!”—waiting for me to listen in return. It is all very quiet; for now, there we dwell.
The word of the LORD is rare, I know. Or maybe it is just soft, the sound too gentle for most ears. I learned from my parents to create still places to seek. They woke early every morning to sit in the living room, whispering into the quiet with the Word in their laps. I would creep sleepy-eyed up the stairs, listening to them listening to God and the crinkles of thin pages being turned. Cups of coffee always rested on the lampstands beside them with steam swirling upward like incense. Not long after, the sun would rise.
Face in pillow, I speak to the same ancient silence, the same profound hush. A tradition as old as humanity—“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” So I mutter with lips to cloth, warm breath flowing past my cheeks “Here I am. Speak, for your servant is listening,” even though my name was never called. I wonder how He regards me, if His sadness at the way faith must be is greater than my own.
Why do I believe?
Rain washes down window. Thunder claps. Branches creak. Leaves settle damp onto ground. I do not know. A yearning, maybe. A hope. A desire for all that lives to have a Listener. Because in life and death, Imago Dei permeates all. Because I am, and “I AM,” and love is, and there must be more love out there—“the greatest of these.” For these reasons, I follow in the long tradition of abiding with God in silence. I would not choose anything else but a heart heavy with Holy Quiet.
We listen together as the storm rages, scattering leaves to the sky. A long, low roll of thunder and I am asleep.