I am sure many of you remember this song by Stevie Wonder, back in 1984. Songs like this show their age these days as the old simple traditional phone call has been replaced by texting, tweeting, and other alternatives such as Skype or WhatsApp! Never before has there been such an array of methods of communication. The world is literally at our finger tips. Communication is more or less instant. The wonder of technology is a great gift. It represents yet another example of our God given capability. We are constantly making new discoveries, pushing boundaries edging against the frontiers of ignorance.
Yet all is not as it seems. I have heard some very funny stories of people who thought they knew how to use predictive text and were horrified to discover the actual message they sent. In some ways we seem to recognise the inherent limitations of the new technologies. We sometimes say we will wait to ‘talk in person’ about a particular topic. A friend of mine recently extolling the value of Skype concluded ‘It was great talking to her but it also reminded me how much I miss holding her hand, the smell of her hair, her hug!’ Facebook friends are fine but it is lovely to sit and drink coffee and chat to a friend in person. Technology is wonderful but even it, has its limitations. Sometimes we need tone, eye contact and touch to really connect. Even when we have all this we can experience gaps, incomplete connection, misunderstood words or phrases. ‘No that’s not quite what I meant, you are picking me up all wrong’.
I have been thinking recently about our communication with the Lord, and his with us. I often feel he is dropping us hints from early morn. Birdsong and the breaking dawn might be the first text of the day. Like Hansel and Gretel is he leaving us a trail? Is he peppering the path in front of us with little clues. It strikes me that he may well be trying to get us on the phone every day. Is it that the line is busy? Is it that our line is constantly engaged? Does our phone regularly go to voicemail when Jesus calls. Do we pick up the voicemail or does he keep ringing back because he
wants to speak to us ‘in person’. Is it that he actually wants our presence. Could it be that the best gift we can give him, is exactly what he gives us, Presence. Not presents. Does he long for our presence. Is it this that he delights in? Do you recognise the hint of the divine in your daily life? Do you feel the nudge of the Spirit? I ask do you recognise? Do you feel? I do not ask is there a hint or is there a nudge. I take that as read. There is. I believe each and every day is imbued with the divine. We see it in his ever changing dazzling art work, in sky, rosebud and fingerprint. I also believe, to a greater or lesser, degree we make ourselves unreachable. So often we are incommunicado. We are out of reach. There is no signal.
I wonder also about our attempts to get through to the Lord. How often do we give him a buzz or even a quick text? If I got through would he say Ah Joe!! Or Joe Who? Where might we get full coverage? When is best to have the divine chat? Is he the much neglected friend? Do I take him for granted? Does he only hear from me when I need something? Life is busy, but has your life, my life, become so busy, as to not have the time to get in touch with the Author of Life itself.
This is the dilemma of today. In this fast crazy world of immediacy we have touch technology that renders the one time wonder of the microwave or the television remote control now appear almost archaic. However there is no app available that will replace the wonder of intimacy. There is no app that can equate two human beings fostering a friendship that allows them to glimpse each other’s souls. Yet there is an answer to this dilemma. There is actually a time tested way to allow, and indeed develop good communication between us and the Lord. It is at one and the
same time the solution to both problems. If we employed it we would have ready access to the Lord, and he to us. What is this incredible new fangled technology? Well it’s the monastic secret, and it is as old as time itself. I am speaking of course of silence. Sacred Silence. This is the key and most common place to find the Lord. It is in the silence that the divine connection is most profound. It is of course very difficult to get this silence. This is the case whether it is the outer or inner silence. We live in a noisy world. From early morning to late at night we have noise.
Even our churches have become temples of din! Even when we manage to get to a quiet place the inner noise of our minds babbles away.
So my friends, here is both a challenge and a guarantee. I invite you to experiment with silence. Start with five maybe ten minutes even once a week. Ideally it would be good to build it up to thirty minutes a day. For Jesus his favourite place to pray was either the lakeshore or on the hilltop. Where might yours be? If you manage to get to a place where there is no, or very little, outer noise, what are you to do with your own inner mental chit-chat? As a preparation perhaps you could read a little story from the gospel about Jesus, or from one of the psalms. Psalm one
hundred and thirty nine is one of my favourites. Just be patient. Do not wrestle with it. Gradually, gently, with practice, you will learn to let it go. Now, here is the guarantee: if you listen, if you give it the time, the Lord will not let you down. In fact it’s better than that he will surprise you. He will outdo you in generosity. You will hear him in the stillness deep in your soul. You will know afresh that you are loved beyond measure. There is actually no better use of time, than time alone with the Lord: Listening. Listening with your heart.
“I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU”