Rev Adrianne Dempster, facilitator of the Maleny Uniting Church Christian meditation group, reminds us to make space to hear the still small voice of God.
On 11 November 1918, there was silence.
The guns fell silent on that day in November, and on the same day in 2013, our nation will again observe one minute’s silence at the eleventh hour. Silence and remembering, one giving space and meaning to the other.
In 2011 my husband and I visited the Menin Gate in the Belgian town of Ypres. On that gate is the following inscription:
HERE ARE RECORDED NAMES OF OFFICERS AND MEN WHO FELL IN YPRES SALIENT BUT TO WHOM THE FORTUNE OF WAR DENIED THE KNOWN AND HONOURED BURIAL GIVEN TO THEIR COMRADES IN DEATH.
Today the people of Ypres still remember at 8.00 pm each day. The street running through the gate is closed off, buglers play the Last Post, there is a short service and there is silence. They honour and remember the 54 000 men of the former British Empire whose remains were never recovered from the battlefields that surround their town—the most comprehensively razed town in Europe. My grandfather and great uncle were two of these.
In the stillness of our November silence, for one moment, we turn our thoughts away from our own present distractions and give focus to memory. The remembering is deeply personal for many and yet, profoundly communal. That which is God-like within us surfaces, and we find within ourselves a likeness to the God of the long-term memory, “Though a woman forgets the child she bore, I will not forget you”. God does not forget them, and nor do we.
I find gentle parallels to what, as a nation, we experience on Remembrance Day, and what happens in Christian meditation. There, it is the space—the silence—we give to God for God’s selfrevelation, which gives our lives meaning. An aged rabbi once told his students, “It is the white spaces, the silences, between the words that give the words their meaning.”
The discipline of silence is one of the three foundational concepts of Christian meditation: stillness, silence and simplicity. In 20 minutes of silence, that which is God-like within us is enabled to flourish and grow. No words are spoken. The distractions of our current lives are set aside. We remember our Lord as we inwardly pray our mantra, “Maranatha, maranatha. Come Lord Jesus”. We remember him.