14 August 2020
A Moment to Reflect -81
THE CALM WITHIN AND BETWEEN THE STORMS
I’m quite surprised that even now on many websites designed to help people plan a wedding, one of the suggested hymns to be sung at a wedding service is that familiar and much-loved hymn set to the great tune ‘Repton’ by Charles Parry, the one that begins with the line “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.” You know the one?
Don’t these ‘wedding planners’ realise what are the next two lines of the hymn? “forgive our foolish ways; reclothe us in our rightful mind…”
But perhaps it’s the closing lines of the hymn that some people remember better:
“Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire, O still small voice of calm.” —John Greenleaf Whittier
The truly ironic thing about this hymn, however, is that the author of these lines (and they were in fact part of a longer poem) did not actually approve of hymn-singing at all! On this one occasion, however, he reluctantly allowed his words to be used for that purpose and to be included in a hymnbook published in 1884. Whittier was actually a Quaker who strongly believed that God was best worshipped in the silence of meditation.
I guess he’d feel very much at home during these ‘Covid’ days!
When we do get around to reopening Kirkton Church not just for individual prayer and meditation but for public worship (and we hope to do that quite soon,) the one thing that won’t be included (I’m sorry to say) will be hymn-singing, even though it is one of the things that our congregation most enjoys about worshipping God.
I’m conscious of the fact that yesterday’s reflection was rather long—some may say long-winded. So, as an antidote to the verbal hailstorm that was yesterday’s ‘Moment to Reflect,’ I simply offer to you today a photograph taken on the Isle of Mull showing a picture of calm.
Together with this photograph, reflect on these words from Henri Nouwen.
‘Be still and acknowledge that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10). These are words to take with us in our busy lives. We may think about stillness in contrast to our noisy world. But perhaps we can go further and keep an inner stillness even while we carry on business, teach, work in construction, make music, or organise meetings.
It is important to keep a still place in the ‘marketplace.’ This still place is where God can dwell and speak to us. It also is the place from where we can speak in a healing way to all the people we meet in our busy days. Without that still space we start spinning. We become driven people, running all over the place without much direction. But with that stillness God can be our gentle guide in everything we think, say, or do. —Henri Nouwen