"He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces 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 sound of sheer silence.When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’" (1 Kings 19:11-13, NRSV)First of all, you can pick your mouths up off the floor that I'm quoting Scripture. Successful? Good, now let's move on.
I was thinking of what I wanted to write about today, and immediately the title The Voice That Keeps Calling My Name came to mind. You see, I still hear it to this day, and every day. Sometimes I listen to it, other times I occupy myself with distractions so that I don't have to listen to it. Here are some of the voices that I hear on a very regular basis - and by voices I do not mean literal voices in my head, but they are just as real to me as if they were literal:
- "Be easy on yourself."
- "Be kind to yourself."
- "Don't be hard on yourself."
- "Do what you want to do."
- "You are not nearly as bad as you think you are."
- "You are worthy of love."
- "Wait. Love will find you."
- "The love you give will come back to you in return."
- "Slow down. There's no rush."
It is hard to hear this voice, which I call the voice of Love, when you fill your day with work or other activities and don't seem to have the time to sit with yourself and "fill-in-the-blanks-here." Your inner voice, the Inner Voice, God, Spirit, Love, Life, Mystery. It takes practice, and I must admit, I suck at it. I suck at sitting still, I suck at staying quiet. I'd rather be on Twitter or watching a movie, or surfing Facebook to see how many people are reading this blog entry. :)
I was just thinking of when this "voice" started within me, and when I think really really hard, it has been with me since I was a small child, a little boy. Back then it was also comforting, reassuring me that everything would eventually be alright, even as I was living with childhood trauma. Or, as a boy when I would anxiously await for my mother to return from music team practice, trying to fight the macabre overactive imagination that she had been in a car accident and that I would be left to be raised by someone else.
And I am so grateful for it and that its presence has never left me. The question now is: Will I now take the time to listen more closely to this voice, my voice - or will I continue to run and avoid it? On their Christmas album, The Rankin Sisters sing a song called The Christmas Star, and one of the persistent lines is "Peace must come from within." As an evangelical, I chalked this up to New Age gobbledy-gook, but now I realize much of it's truth.
I leave you with this quote from the American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader Howard Thurman:
"There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”May you be blessed by a renewal of listening to your inner voice today, or by taking those steps toward that inner resolve you may have lost years ago.
Mark Andrew Alward
*The following is a song called "The Warrior Is A Child" that I must have listened to hundreds of times during my childhood which expressed how I felt as I lived through the yelling, the slamming of doors, and the deafening silence of abuse.