I would like to share with you three deeply and unexpectedly spiritual moments I have experienced in the past few years. Two of them happened in Scotland and one in Tesco in Batley. On holiday in Scotland on an excursion to the Trossachs we rounded the head of a loch saw before us a stretch of water shining in the sun fringed by trees reflected in the water and white fluffy clouds floating gently across a vivid blue sky and again reflected in the waters beneath. It was a heart-stopping moment frozen in time and then in an instant with a slight change in direction by the coach the perfection was lost.
The following year we made the same journey on a cloudy day and, although we identified the same spot, there was no magic. One day I was shopping in Tesco when I turned from one aisle into the next and came upon a young woman dressed from head to toe in beautifully tailored plain fawn-coloured robes, her head-covering framing the most beautiful serene face. Perhaps it was the fact that she was pregnant but for yet another heart-stopping moment as I met her gaze it felt for all the world as if I was in the presence of the Madonna then other shoppers came into view and the moment was gone. The third experience occurred again on holiday in Scotland. I had left my friends sitting waiting for our coach and walked on my own past the steamer pier at Ullapool and was standing looking out across the water. For what must have been only at most a minute no traffic passed, no seabirds called and no voices were heard – for the first time ever “I heard the sound of
silence”. It was an overwhelming and surprisingly physical experience which it is hard to explain.
My three experiences had in common that they were all intensely powerful and
spiritual and over in a moment. In this busy and fast moving world we need to pause and savour the moment for it will never come again. On all three occasions, even in the busy supermarket I experienced the feeling of being in a bubble of silence. Somehow silence seems to be something we can’t cope with in today’s world. Even in our church services it is fair to say that many of us find extended periods of silence, in prayers for example, somewhat uncomfortable. It is worth
reminding ourselves of Elijah’s experience in the wilderness. Feeling alone and abandoned, when he sought to connect with God he found that He came not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire but in a still, small voice. For our own mental
physical and spiritual well-being we need to find space and time in our lives for those periods of stillness and silence to recharge our batteries.
At this time of year when we look forward to celebrating Christ’s birth we
remember the troubled world into which he came. As 2017 draws to a close and we view the year that is passing taking with it memories of horrific events and leaving behind uncertainties about the future we can’t help but feel that things have changed little in two thousand years. The need seems greater than ever for a period of quiet reflection to value the moment and for us as Christians to allow ourselves to hear God’s “still small voice” showing us the way to move forward.
With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to everyone in SPACE.