Like many of us I am spending much more time in front of a computer screen than normal. The outside world is quieter. There is less traffic on the road and it should come as no surprise then that the animal kingdom is starting to take notice. In Llandudno in Wales there has been an influx of mountain goats roaming the deserted streets for an easy snack. Of course, I read about this on my computer screen.
I think I have even noticed here in Brisbane, although I could be imagining it, more birdsong recently. It is almost as if the rowdy teenagers at the party are slumped quietly in the corner and the shyer guests are coming out to chat.
As we enter more deeply into a time of reduced face-to-face social contact and necessary hibernation within our households, we might see more of this. Not only the wonderfully creative activities in people’s homes (the internet is rife with these at the moment), but we might start to see more of nature around us, coming back from where we pushed it out.
As we start to explore new habits, home-based habits, I wonder if we might at times be so quieted that we hear more clearly the still small voice of calm, the sound of sheer silence. This is a somewhat clumsy way of saying that in our newly enforced patterns of behaviour, we might be aware that God is still active and present, and might even be more noticeable, as we have lessened our frenzy.
The Rev’d Canon Mark Oakley, Dean of St John’s College at the University of Cambridge, was expected to visit Brisbane this month and present a seminar at St Francis College. He is currently in ‘lockdown’ in the UK and recently wrote this in The Church Times: “The silence at home feels like God’s last resort against all my nonsense.”
Perhaps we should do our best to welcome the silence and relish the difficulty in trying to make sense of things. Maybe even in these oddest of times and strangest of circumstances the God, who was at work in a tomb, might be at work in our lives, too.
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side
By Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.