The Song of Silence
Not quite sunrise. I was up early. Or maybe the sun was tired today. I noticed a glow around the blinds and decided to open them anyway. As I filled my coffee, I pondered my backyard of two years.
There, at the back of our property was the stately, mangled maple that all my neighbors would rather I cut down. One trunk of the two leaned gently to the west, just enough that patches of snow had collected in its bark on the exposed east side. There was something lovely and reverent about it, but I couldn’t place it. It stood daily, bare branches stark against the sky, waiting for the sunrise, oblivious to my opening the blinds every morning to receive the morning light over my coffee. Oddly serene, in a shabby sort of way.
I love these moments of quiet before my home wakes. As work and motherhood have interrupted this ritual, I have recently returned to it with renewed relief. A few moments of silence, prayer and reading, today with contemplative gratitude too. “Lord, fill me.” I asked.
The light increased and my soul warmed. I ambled to my couch in the living room, still in full view of the old maple in my dining room window. I curled up on the couch, stared at the closer of the two trunks of the old tree and waited for my body to fully awake. Stiff main trunk, two sweeping arms, its snow covered slight lean, it all started to take shape. Like suddenly seeing mountains in the clouds or complete rainbows on oil slick roads, I saw what I couldn’t unsee.
Mournful, fluid, his arm reached up beside him, almost perpendicular to the leaning trunk. His right arm arched gracefully towards me and then turned towards the left arm at two knotty joints. Frozen in this pose with only the seasons to offer millimeters of movement, the violinist played his silent tune. While violinists of flesh play instruments of wood, this woody musician played an instrument of the wind.
How old was this musician? How long had he witnessed the rise and fall and rise again of this old neighborhood that had experienced so much of Detroit’s history? And still he stood playing a tune for God alone, oblivious to any other mission than this. With purpose and pathos, the beauty and mourning of Schindler’s List, he mimed his mournful song which no humans would ever hear.
The Psalmist and the prophet Isaiah who heard these silent hymns of creation rejoiced with the trees, rivers, and hills too. It is the languageless praise of the creation worshiping its Creator. Weary and groaning though it is, longing for Him whose right it is to reign forever, it still sings. Even in my backyard – and yours.
As this musician raises his bow in worship I’ll raise my silent hallelujah to my Creator with his. The Lord Himself said the stones would cry out if we do not praise Him. Maybe they are always singing, and we just never hear them. But Lord willing, we will never give them a chance.
Oh that my life in all its chaos and noise would be the same - oblivious to all opinions but One. A singular focus to live out the purpose He made me for. To raise my not-so-silent hymn of worship as if I had one Person as my audience. The Audience, as Zephaniah reminds us, who is also singing over me.
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
As my day started with all its noise and motion, my soul was filled with the woody violinist’s song of silence for his Creator.
And so may yours be - full of His presence, His salvation, His eternal song of delight. Let Him quiet your protests with His love – He’s already forgiven you. And tune your heart to hear Him thrill over you with loud singing: “She’s mine!”
“Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together” (Psalm 98:8).
“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).
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