Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Want to Know God?

Listen to the Silence

It really is that simple. If you want to know God, listen to the Silence.
Not preachers.
Not televangelists.
Not even the local parish priest.

But listen to your own heart
In silence
Before you fall asleep
Perfectly still

I learned this as a boy. 

When my father died at Christmas. I was merely 8 years old. And when I cried myself to sleep at night; night after night; all I heard was silence. This went on for 18 months when one bright sunny summer day on the way home from church, I picked a solitary leaf off from behind a chain link fence, a single solitary leaf from off a city hedge.

As I pressed my thumbnail into the leaf and the life blood of that leaf left its green chlorophyl there for me to see, that's when I heard something in my heart that said; "Don't you know there's a special place in my heart for your dad?"

There were no voices. No sounds. Still there was but a profound silence.
But now I was able to give voice to the Silence.
Notice there that I have capitalized the word "Silence".
I spoke out loud what the Silence spoke to my heart; "Don't you know there's a special place in my heart for your dad?"

When he died there were some uncharitable words for my dad. There had been a divorce. Distant cousins who were "Christian" said my dad couldn't go to heaven because my dad did not go to church.

Thankfully, my family wasn't particularly religious, so they told me not to pay attention to them. Still, it was tough to discover that my dad was never coming home again. Tougher still to wonder if I'd even get to see him in the life to come. I began to think that "Christians" could be mean. 

They still can be.

So then I ran home to my grandmother to ask her;
"Ma, is there a God?"
"Yes," she said, "of course there is".

"Ma, is there a heaven?"
Somewhat irritated, after all there were mouths to be fed and mealtime was hardly a good time for theology. But still, she answered; "Yes, of course there is".

So now I pressed my luck. With a note of authority, I asked her;
"Ma, is my daddy there?"
I knew what she thought of my dad. More than once she said it was the Irish that ruined Boston. Furthermore, the thought of an Englishwoman spending an eternity with an Irishman must have given her pause, but then she did the unforgettable one act that changed my life; she knelt down and she folded my head into the nape of her neck and it is as though I can still smell her hair as I write this story and she said; 
"Of course he is".

My heart leapt for joy now at night as I poured out my soul to the Silence.
Now the Silence became a Presence I could talk to.
I learned that the Presence had a name;

I learned that the Presence had a Holy Name;

I learned that the Presence filled me with the Holy Wisdom from on High and was called;
The Holy Spirit

God came to life for me in the Silence, where I still meet God night after night and day after day.
And so it was that I gave my life to the Holy Trinity.

Not a doctrine but a living dynamic within the Silence I have come to know and love as the Living God.

It was then that I decided to become a Parish Priest so that I could share this message with all who yearned to hear it and many who didn't. 

Gay or straight, black or white, male or female, rich or poor....we are ALL ONE IN CHRIST!

So if you want to know God, listen to the Silence. 
Listen closely to the profound Silence.
In the Silence God will speak to you and say;
"Don't you know there's a special place in my heart for You!"

Fr. Paul


debbie b said...

Loved this..thanks for the reminder that the silence is a good thing

Lyn Rundberg said...

Didn't realize you were the "Paul" I've been reading....

Chuck Riffee said...

Thank you, Fr. Paul.

Chuck Riffee said...

Thank you, Fr. Paul.