I live in a city that is constantly under construction. Hundreds of people move here every week; it’s an “it” city, a place to be, and so apartment buildings are blossoming like concrete daisies in every vacant lot and half-empty field. There is more steel than sky now, and the sun is always crossed by a construction crane.
At my school, too, there is construction. The divinity building is adding a section to the front for, well, some reason. They haven’t really communicated it to us students, but it does mean that on a regular basis class is punctuated by drills, chains, alarms, and jackhammers. Last week we were having a communion service in our small chapel and there was a jackhammer going through most of it and I just couldn’t countenance that.
It’s not so much that I think Jesus can’t be present when there’s construction going on—far from it. Nor do I think the ritual of communion is impeded by noise, or that such noise is either holy or unholy. But it was just the perfect illustration, to me, of how much distraction there is in that building and in my life. I’m in divinity school, and I do not pay attention to God.
Not a ringing endorsement for a pastor, really.
Some of this is the school itself and my many disagreements with how it approaches theological education. But some of it is the noise in my own head, in my heart, in the places where I still haven’t sat down and understood that I saw a lot of death this summer and I’m super distant from my best friend and I have lost a lot of things there were very important to me and I am not dealing with any of that. My pastor told me the other day that she’s trying to teach me to think theologically and Reader, that’s what I used to be able to do here. That’s kind of why I started this blog, to sit with you and examine the ways that God shows up in my life, to encourage you to look for the ways God shows up in yours. Don’t get me wrong—God is still showing up in my life, to be sure.
I just don’t mark it, and I don’t much care.
The jackhammers are too loud, you see. I can’t hear the still, small voice right now. I can’t even hear the thundering pillar of fire, to be honest. I can only hear the jackhammers, and alarms, and the concerns of Doing the Next Thing and there is no ministry in that, to myself or anyone else. To leave would seem the obvious solution, to go somewhere for a few days at least where I could hear my God think, where I could hear my heart beat, where I could hear my soul breathe again. But to leave would be to miss class, to abandon my duties at my church, to lose money while I’m not working, to leave people in the lurch, to set myself back.
It’s about the gains outweighing the losses, right? And they don’t, yet. I don’t know what it will take for them to do so. But I know that I miss my weekly chats with you, Reader. I know that I miss the grounding of this theological thinking. And I know that I pretty desperately miss the Jesus Who calls my name, a sound drowned by the damn jackhammers.
Where do you find your silent spaces in the midst of the noise? How do you open your ears to God? Teach me, Reader. I have forgotten the way.
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12, KJV)