5:23am

 

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I look at my watch.  5:23am.

The dog has to pee.  So I climb out of bed and stumble to the back door.  Instead of trying to coax him out like I usually do, I decide to go out with him.

I look up at the sky, still dark.  It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust.  I realize I’m looking up at the moon, and a star, overhead.  Probably a planet, I think.

And then I hear it.

Nothing.  Or just about. There’s the distant chirps of crickets.  The slight hum of wind in my ears.  But mostly, it’s the sound of silence.

No beeps or ringtones.  No traffic or dogs howling.  No distant laughter.

No arguments or small talk.  No spam.  No memes.  No Netflix.

No politics, no announcers, no commentary.  No soundbites.

It is unexpectedly wondrous, there at the beginning of a new day, to pause and reflect on a quiet world.  God’s creation, mostly muted.  I wonder if this is what it was like at 5:23am on the 6th day, before God made the noisy land animals.  Before God made us.

Most days, especially lately, the world is too loud for me.  Humanity makes too much noise.  Puts too many opinions out into the ether.  Falls into camps and dukes it out on the nightly news.  Most days, especially lately, I’m just weary of it all.

I look down at my dog, Tom Petty.  He’s ready to go back inside for another hour of sleep.  He seems unaffected by the vast quiet around him. He’ll be back to barking when the sun has risen.

As for me, I rediscover something I thought was gone from the world forever.  Silence.  It is the most precious moment of my week, so far.

In this Nothing, is Something.  Beneath it all, God is here, a divine finger pressed against God’s lips.  Shhhh.

I am reborn.  Recreated.

I look at my watch.

5:25.

Have a great week,

Mitch
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Magic Words

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I long to find the perfect words.

Words that will open every door.

Words that will make sense to folks on the left and the right of me.
Words that will keep a Church from the threat of schism.
Words that will bring the world to its senses.

“OPEN SESAME!”

(Nothing).

I wish God would put magic words into my mouth.

Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is supposed to do?

Words that will bring people back to Love.
Words that will make things clear.
Words that will cut through every artificial barrier.

“PLEASE?”

(Nothing.)

. . .

I spend so much time trying to choose my words,
trying to search for the right thing to say,
trying to be eloquent,

And so little time trying to JUST BE.

Hmm.

Maybe I should try THESE words:

“SPEAK, FOR YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING.”

(Welcome to Lent)

 

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Have a great week,

Mitch

CAN YOU HEAR CHRISTMAS NOW?

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This time of year, my ears start ringing.

No, it’s not just the salvation army bell ringer, or the bell choir at church.

It’s from all the noise of the season.

Music and parties and pageants and crowds.  So much noise.

I love it.  I love all of it.

But here we are, in the last few days before Christmas, and I wonder:

Underneath all of that, is there something we are unintentionally drowning out?

Something wondrous and awe-filled?

I think so.  And I don’t want to let Christmas come without experiencing it.

And so, here’s Mitch signing off early this week.  (Written words can be “noisy” too).

Instead, I invite you to take a few deep breaths, and read the following quote:

It comes from an ancient song that is based on the writing of the Prophet Habakkuk,

and it just may give you and I what we need to hear most of all.

Have a great week,

Mitch

 

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

 

Siolence.


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It’s 5:05am.

The room is dark, except for the tiny dot of light from the lamppost outside my window.

My wife breathes quietly beside me, and off in a distant room I hear a low hum.  Probably the refrigerator.

Other than that, everything is still.

The world is asleep, mostly.

I should be too, for another hour or two, but the calm and quiet around me has captured my attention.

Funny, how peaceful things are outside,

because meanwhile… inside?

IT’S A CIRCUS.  A CROWDED DEPARTMENT STORE.  AN AIRPORT TERMINAL.

MY OWN HEAD IS LIKE AN ALARM CLOCK WITH A BROKEN SNOOZE BUTTON!

My “things to do today” list flashes past me like the crawl on the bottom of a 24 hour news station.

Highlights (and lowlights) from yesterday rattle around my brain.

It’s not just my brain making noise.

My heart seems to have woken up early, too. Worries and fears explode like water balloons filled with angst instead of water.

And is that my own voice I hear shouting at me with ideas and strategies and lists and details?

I guess it is.

Why am I doing this to myself?

Although you wouldn’t know it if you were standing in the corner of my room, there’s a complete racket going on inside my not-so-sleepy head.

i hate when this happens.

When the world presents me with silence…

and my own mind responds with violence.

I’m not alone in this, am I?

Insomniacs, workaholics, worriers, and folks like me who just have a busy week ahead may all be able to relate to the sensation of Siolence:

Silence on the outside, violence on the inside.

You know, the world seems to so seldom give us an opportunity for peace, it’s a shame to miss even one.

Actually, God is the one who prescribed Sabbath time. It’s meant to be a regular part of our lives – an opportunity to cease from all of our busyness, inside and out.

No violence. Just silence.

. . . . .

It’s 6:52am now.

Instead of just stewing in my own personal edition of CNN, I got up and made some coffee. I prayed. I wrote this devotion.

It turns out I didn’t have to face this Siolence lying down (literally).

Just like Jesus, getting up early in the morning and going off by himself to pray, I accepted this invitation to silence and welcomed the peace of Christ into this brand-new day.

This beautiful day.

Whatever comes, I’m ready to embrace it…

(including, I hope, a half an hour nap at some point.)

Have a great week,

Mitch

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A Perfect Pause

images (5)At 3am this morning, I woke up to the sound of it.

It was the sound of quiet.

I turned over in bed and rubbed my eyes, and just listened.

What an amazing sound.  I was aching for it and hadn’t even known.

Just…quiet.

I lay there, not thinking.

That’s what typically messes up my attempts at quiet–my own thoughts start filling up my head.

But not this morning.  I think my brain was still mostly asleep.

And that was nice.

I wish I could convey the peace of that silence,

but it’s hard to use words to describe a lack of words.

There. It was like that.  A perfect pause.

I was listening to God, listening to Me.

And it sounded wonderful.

Have a great week,

Mitch

Stunned Silence

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!  — Habakkuk 2:20

Maybe “Silent Night” will strike a chord on Christmas Eve, but lately, I’ve been all “Jingle Bells”.

The truth is, I have been avoiding silence.

I seek out music. Noise. Entertainment. Conversation. Even my own inner thoughts.  I figure, if I just stay busy enough, distracted enough, I can ride the waves of activity all the way to January. And along the way I’ll do my best to Be Of Good Cheer.

Isn’t that enough?

No, it’s not. The truth is, I’m nervous. A little scared, even. There’s something there, in the quiet, that unsettles me.

Listen…

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

That verse is from a 4th century Greek hymn, based on the line from Habakuk, above.  This is a song that is sung during Advent. No Christmas trees. No cute little babies in a manger. This is a song about INCARNATION. God coming to Earth. It’s not something to be taken lightly.

It’s something so important, so overwhelming, that our response might involve fear and trembling!

We should behold. Pay homage. We should allow ourselves to be overwhelmed.

Stunned, in fact, to the point of silence.

That’s not easy for me.

The HUGENESS of God’s love for us requires a response of stunned silence.  A sharp intake of breath. A deep pondering of what God-With-Us truly means.

For us to clutter up our Decembers with too much “jingling” means we might be drowning out the sound of Love’s divine invasion.

And what does that sound like?

Listen…