From the Minister
Quietness is never the absence of sound any more than stillness is the absence of movement. Deep in the country the only sound and movement on a spring morning may be the chirping of birds in the trees or a tiny stream giggling in the sunlight: in summer the centre of interest may be moved to the bursting of blossom and the ripening of fruit: in autumn, to the wind in the trees, telling old tales and making new promises: in winter, to the comfortable rat-a- tat of rain on a roof. But always, quietness and stillness are compounded of sound and movement, harmonious, pleasant and purposeful.
How splendidly one of the Hebrew Psalmists has put those two words "quietness and stillness" together. He says, "I have stilled and quieted my soul." Words, don't you think, that have added significance for us in these busy days?
Most mornings a radioalarm calls us with a din. Our kitchen is swamped with broadcast news from across the globe: advertisers want to sell us things and statesmen have urgent words of warning. After tea and toast, we push back our chairs and dash off to work. Soon we are submerged in the mind-boggling intricacies of postmodern technology. Is it any wonder that we are troubled and perplexed? Longingly, we think of the stillness and quietness as if it were only to be found, "far from the maddening crowd's ignoble strife." Wherein then lies the secret of stillness?
Mrs Fisher, widow of a former Archbishop of Canterbury and herself a very busy person, points the way forward for us. She wrote: "There have been many occasions when the number and complexity of things to be done seemed overwhelming. Days when loyalties seemed to conflict and I could not decide what to do or how or when to do it. At those times I found that if I went away somewhere quiet and knelt down and literally laid it all out in God's presence and resigned the puzzle to him, he did as it were, give it all back to me in a quiet way."
He gave it all back to me in a quiet way!
Ever sincerely yours.
How shrewd. How simple. How practical. How ancient and yet how very modern. Isn't it the quiet, unfussy people who bring peace and stillness in our hectic routine?
Keith F. Hall