In the beginning there was noise. Then there was silence.
In the beginning we noted the silence, an emptiness, a void. As we watched the virus spread around the globe, the numbers of deaths climb up, maybe the lack of ‘normal’, the orderly queuing, the daily briefings, government u-turns, and working from home felt like chaos. The quiet without traffic noise was welcome. But the emptiness of isolation was overwhelming.
Yet in the beginning we notices things in the silence. We heard birds singing. We say the sun rise and set. We welcomed the light of the moon. We found animals creeping into our gardens. We turned our hands to growing vegetables and flowers. There was life and creativity, and it was good.
But now there is noise again. ‘Life’ is returning. We feel the strain of working from home without the limits of 37.5 hours per week. We pass people on the street and they no longer move away from us. We feel stress—are they infected? Masked faces reassure us and scare us.
And the noise is increasing to another level. Voices call to us to spend our money, revive our economy, save our high streets, the shops and the shopkeepers. Voices that shout “Covid-19 is a hoax!” Voices demand the return to “normal.”
The noise of all these voices drown the other Voice—the one that created and named creation ‘good.’ In the noise it is easy to miss a whisper asking us to listen to the ones who are hurting. Three months of quiet were hard, but in them we heard and saw the beauty of creation. In them we birthed new ideas and we learned new skills—like Zooming.
The voices now are demanding a return to ‘normal’ and I am find myself deeply sad. I don’t want to be drawn back into doing ‘what we have always done.’ So I may be the voice wondering ‘Why?’ Why do we have to do it that way? Why can’t we try new things? Why do we have to rush backwards rather than allow the creativity and the silence to lead us in new directions?
It seems to me that so much of life—work, church, personal—has been trying to drown the whisper of Love that encourages us to be, to create, to listen, to offer time. We have been running to keep up, but is that what Love wants of us? I doubt it is to attend meetings or spend money. I think it is more likely asking us to find ways to connect despite the brokenness of our connections.
When I was a student, some of my peers wanted to “return” to an early church model. That model was actually a few people gathering, eating, talking, helping each other, praying and listening to the stories of Jesus or the Hebrew Bible or letters from someone like Paul. This was never going to happen.
But is it happening now? Is 2020 the beginning of another way of being church, authentic and small gatherings where people focus on scripture and prayer, where people share honestly with each other, where we get together to help each other in small groups?
In the beginning the chaos and emptiness lead to creation. Can we face the chaos and emptiness of our world and then create, with God, a new way of being authentically church, authentically human, without the noise drowning us once again? Can there be new life and creativity which we name ‘good’? Can we offer ourselves to Love with an openness to doing church and life differently and say ‘In 2020, we trusted ourselves to God and leapt into the beginning of . . .”?
In the beginning there was love, connection, and hope.
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