This doesn’t quite rate as Part 3 of the series on “You had to be there” because I hadn’t planned on it until I just read something that seemed highly related to the last entry (Part 2).
In that entry, we looked at the connection between “you had to be there” and the Incarnation, God’s “being there” on this planet and our own way of traveling both physically and spiritually. All heady stuff, I admit.
Then this weekend, I picked up a copy of Kathleen Norris’s book, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith. In the book, she takes on the “scary words” of Christianity as she calls them, words that for years kept her away from her faith. The book chronicles her return to that faith and her understanding, or at least wrestling with words like “dogma,” “salvation,” “sinner,” “faith” and even “Incarnation.”
She approaches these words with honesty and hopefulness rather than cynicism and judgment. She also does so with a poet’s touch and intersperses her own story amidst the short meditations on the words. I’m only on page 17 but am enjoying the journey so far.
On that page, she addresses the word, “Silence.” She tells of teaching elementary school kids about poetry and language and in so doing, she does an exercise with them regarding noise and silence. She gives the children a simple rule: When she raises her hand, the kids are to make as much noise as possible without leaving their seats.
When she lowers her hand, they are to be completely silent. The responses are quite interesting. You can imagine how the kids dealt with noise – they know how to do that well (though never with permission to do so in school before this).
Silence, however, was something quite different. Many of them found it somewhat unnerving. Why? One fifth grader noted that, “It’s like waiting for something – it’s scary!”
But the main thing the silence did was to free the children’s imaginations. And that’s where we come to the connection to “You had to be there” and the idea of incarnational travel.
In a small town in North Dakota, a young girl offered an insight beyond her years regarding what silence meant to her:
“Silence reminds me to take my soul with me wherever I go.”
And so we do, wherever we travel. We just need to be silent or still enough to remember that.