Sermon of the Week
No Insignificant Question: How Do We Know God is There?
Keywords: Particularity, Absence of God, Still Small Voice, Practices of Faith, Footprints.
I’ve been trying to think this week about the times when I’ve been left speechless
with absolutely nothing to say.
It might not surprise those of you who know me
that this was a challenging exercise for me.
I almost always have something to say.
In part, I now know, this is because I find silences awkward.
And for much of my life, until I kind of worked to change it,
I would often be the one to fill the silence with a comment or idle talk or something.
I started seeing this in myself
as I was working my way through high school and college.
Helpful teachers would remark about my propensity to comment
about the subject at hand, all the time,
not that I was unhelpful or out of place or necessarily wrong, or anything,
just that, maybe, where I needed to grow
was to take in what others were saying a bit more
give it time to sit with me more
let the themes and the topics work a bit more
and that I didn’t always need to be the one driving that bus.
It wasn’t just school.
I have always been something of an extrovert
sometimes striking up random conversations with someone on a park bench
or at the check out line at the grocery store
or once at the DMV
getting my first driver’s license.
The DMV isn’t really the most social place.
Most people don’t want to be there.
The waits can be insufferable.
The space has all the charm of an empty airplane hanger.
Maybe the first time I remember being left speechless
was at the DMV going for my first driver’s license.
I was jittery and excited and probably was quite annoying
but I remember when the person in line in front of me
after hearing me say ‘good morning’ and ‘hey I like your hat’
looked me in the eye, and then turned back around
and in the most obvious way possible
put his earphones on over his ears
to tune me out.
I think I stood there with my mouth agape for a second. Speechless.
This has changed with me, as I’ve gotten older
and more aware of my propensities and nuances.
I learned how to sit through an entire class and not have to comment,
how to read other people and whether they’re interested in idle talk or not.
how to let the situation inform good social interaction
how sometimes it is better to just let the silence be
which, by the way, is often the very thing that the DMV calls for.
I had to learn that the silence was sometimes a gift
that it was ok to sit with my thoughts and my feelings
even if those thoughts and feelings sometimes were racing around inside there.
I’m not sure why I was this sort of child,
or where we get our particular inclinations about this.
We’re all different with this sort of thing, I know.
Some people have the exact opposite inclination
never wanting to speak up, or contribute to a conversation
or be the one, God forbid, that the kid in line talks to as we’re waiting.
Why I was the more excitable sort, nervous about the quiet,
or wanting to explore more of the social connection, I don’t know.
But it helps us to note that we all have different personalities,
different approaches to this,
and that that’s ok,
we’re all made just a little bit different, a little bit unique
and we all have to learn about ourselves and our inclinations along the way.
We are all particular.
Sure, there are certain things that all of us experience, and feel, and yearn for
but these are more like guidelines and frameworks
For example: we all have capacity for love, yearn for love, need love to feel complete
but how we love, who we love, how potent this is in us varies from person to person.
Or, we all have the capacity for curiosity, for exploration, for seeking understanding
but some of us transform this into something like wanderlust
always seeking out new experiences, new people to meet,
and fill our time with books or travel or seminars or online learning programs
like the one I keep seeing ads for on facebook called Masterclass
where apparently Steve Martin can teach me how to do comedy
and Aaron Franklin how to master Texas-style barbeque,
whereas, on the other hand,
others of us are more inclined to chill out at home, where we are,
comfortable in the curiosity we’ve already undertaken, thank you very much,
taking the new experiences as they come
rather than seeking to make them for ourselves.
No two people are the same. We are all particular. [Read more…]