Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Silence of God

For our 20th wedding anniversary this past week, my wife gave me a beautiful new prayer book - "Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community."  The first night I opened it up, the meditation for the day gave me an entirely different perspective on the spirituality of silence:

"After the Second World War, the following words were found written on the wall of a Nazi concentration camp:

I believe in the sun, even when it isn't shining,
I believe in love, even when I feel it is not,
I believe in God, even when He is silent."

(p. 693)


  1. This is a beautiful prayer/meditation and I have been thinking a lot about it.

    As I see it, if we are to have unity and reconciliation in the church, we need to understand each other on the particular "Level" on which each person is speaking. If not, we misunderstand each other, and sometimes this mis-communication leads to conflict.

    This prayer/meditation is a great example of something that can be seen on several levels.

    Silence. In a monastery there is Silence. It is a silence that allows God to be a chatter-box. The Silence of God in a concentration camp. This -- I imagine -- is the Dark Night of the Soul -- an experience similar to that of Mother Teresa or St John of the Cross. It is the Silence of God that Jesus experienced on the Cross.

    In Catholicism we understand Vocations: Priesthood, Religious Life (monastery, convent, monks, nuns), Married Life, and Single Life. In Protestantism, these Vocations are mixed together, and a person can have several "vocations" at once. I have heard some pastors say that their "Pastor-hood" is a "second career." Being a Protestant pastor is seen as a "career" and not a "Vocation" in the Catholic sense. This, I believe, comes from Martin Luther's personal understanding of the Doctrine of the Priesthood of All Believers. I believe this is an issue of Levels -- and it must be resolved before we can have unity in the church.

  2. Thanks much for your reply - I had not yet made the connection between that lament from the concentration camp and the Dark Night of the Soul. The concept of how humans experience the presence (or perceived absence) of God fascinates me. I'm wondering if another connection could be made to Luther's distinction between the "hidden God" and the "revealed God" as well as Eastern Orthodoxy's distinction between the "essence" and the "energies" of God.