Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Silence and the Holy Land

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So I’ve been back from the Holy Land for a week now. In the back of my mind, I think I had all sorts of ideas about how I’d already be sharing photos, impressions, experiences…but that’s not the way things have turned out. Instead, after three intense weeks of travel, my body succumbed to a rather nasty bug and I’ve spent much of the past week flat on my back instead.

Of course, God has used that, too. Our week in Israel and Palestine was so chock-full of experiences that there was very little time to reflect upon what was happening. Each evening in our hotel room I would take time to pull out our little laptop and record what I could of the day and my impressions. But just about every night, I’d also find myself awake at 3 am, processing even more. So I would get up and write again. It was an extremely full season in my spiritual life—but there was not much space for silence.

During these sick days, I’ve had time to get still, to just lie in the weak winter sun and rest, to let some of what happened filter from my overly active brain into my deeper being. For much of the week, I didn’t even have the energy to write any of it down, so I’ve had to trust God that I would recall what was really valuable—or let it become part of my life at a level beyond conscious memory.

I am also trusting that the fruit of this silence and stillness will show up in my life and my ministries. Part of the reason this Holy Land experience was so intense is that it was a Familiarization Tour, designed to provide potential group leaders with a taste of what’s possible if we were to lead a group of pilgrims to the Holy Land. I would like to do that, because I can already sense how connecting with the land—what they call the Fifth Gospel—has enriched my understanding of so many biblical events. (More to follow on that theme, but feel free to let me know if you would be interested in joining me!)

img_4318For now, I sense that I am called instead to pay attention to my own integration process, and let it take the time it needs to unfold within me. And so today’s picture echoes that theme…. The crusader Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem has amazing acoustics. The well-formed emptiness of the chapel allows even the smallest sounds to reverberate in the stillness with incredible beauty—thus effortlessly encapsulating the themes of my past month of blog posts. There is a place for emptiness and stillness, a place for silence—and then there is a time to open our mouths and let our voices reverberate in God’s holiness, trusting God to make of it something beautiful and powerful and transformational.

That time is coming for me. Is it coming for you?

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