A Thin Silence: An Introduction
Robert A. Fink
“ . . . and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12 KJV)
I am weary of pundits. There are so many rabid voices. In his poem “Sitting by a Bush in Broad Sunlight,” Robert Frost writes, “God once spoke to people by name.” The prophet Elijah traveled forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God, and stood in the open expecting God in the great wind that “tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks,” in the earthquake that followed the wind, in the fire after the earthquake. But the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, the fire. God spoke to Elijah in a low whisper, a still small voice, a thin silence (1 Kings 19:11-12).
The poet who wrote Psalm 46:10 instructs, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I think God still speaks “to people by name,” but who can hear amidst the tumult around us. The most spiritual people I know are those like my wife who just go about doing good. They don’t seem to have time for philosophical or theological debate. There are so many people in need.
In his essay “Self-Reliance,” Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, “But do your work, and I shall know you.” Out of the thin silence, that still small voice asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19: 9). That’s the question I often ask myself. Sometimes I have an answer.
Through my writing, what I hope to discover beneath the world’s noisy gongs and clanging cymbals (1 Corinthians 13:1), is what, in the final two lines of his poem “Directive,” Frost invites us to experience: “Here are your waters and your watering place. / Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.” It’s a lot to ask.