Non-Religious Christian Spirituality

elijah and the ants

Here’s one I wrote a while back, but seems pertinent from time to time…

Journal Entry
September 21, 6:45 AM

Down by the pool near the waterfall in semi-darkness listening to the water. Are you in the water, Lord? When the leaves move high overhead, are you in the trees? Where are You? Where do I go to listen? What do I listen for? How do I listen? Do I strain? Do I relax? Is it obvious? Subtle?

Elijah in the cave hiding from Jezebel knew how to listen—what to listen for. Even in his despair and selfpity, his desire to die, to give up. He knew the sound of your voice. When the wind tore into the mountain, he knew you were not there. The earthquake, the fire—the same. But when the still voice, the whisper barely displaced the air at the back of his cave, he wrapped his mantle around his face and went out to meet You. I love that image. Silent compliance. Obedience. Submission.

I look down and I see ants on the ground swarming over something. Carrying off pieces of it in the long snaking column back to their queen. Such great activity, effort. So completely silent. I look—no sound. Yet I imagine if I was suddenly ant-size, standing near, the sound would be of a fierce battle or frenzied construction site. Tearing, scraping, scuffling, buzzing. I’d put my hands over my ears and run. But hearing nothing, I sit and watch. Soundproof. My ears are too big for such things. The mass of my eardrums cannot be moved, vibrated by such small variations in air pressure. If I could somehow thin them out, refine them, a new world of sound would open up until I could hear the ants.

I think that’s where you are, Lord. Right in front of me like these ants. Shouting, talking, waving at me right before my face. But I hear only what I’m capable of hearing. See what I’m willing to see. Relate as my spiritual, emotional maturity dictates. I think your revelation is all around me and I walk right past—through—in despair because I can’t find it.

Does it frustrate you, Lord? That I am so deaf and blind? That my ears and spirit are too thick and heavy to be moved by You? Do You get tired of waving your arms and shouting from behind the glass I put up between us?

Elijah knew how to listen. Yet still despaired. I can’t hear, and despair too. Whose despair is blacker? The despair of knowledge or ignorance?

Elijah came out of his cave at Your call.

I only pray that I hear when You call me out of mine.

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