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Voice of Gentle Stillness

Elijah: Eliyahu ha navi saw an inspiring vision of God on the mountaintop. In Hebrew his vision is kol d’mamah dakah, the Voice of Gentle Stillness. Eli is the beloved, champion of downtrodden who never died (he rose to heaven on fiery chariot), so he visits us still to right wrongs, comfort the pained, and redeem us. I studied the verses of Elijah this July from First Kings 18:46-19:21, and really paid attention for the first time. I was wowed – these verses really spoke to me deeply, and as Rosh Hashanah 5773 approach I share my thoughts about God and Elijah’s inspiration: the Voice of Gentle Stillness, beginning with a summary of the story in verse:

Kol D’mama Dakah, a Voice of Gentle Stillness
Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu

Fearing for his life Eliyahu fled to Yizreala, from Jezabel
All alone and in despair, God please take my life! he prayed
I am no better than my fathers!

A messenger of God then touched Eliyahu suddenly
You are not alone, he said Eat my friend, and drink, I am with you.
Rise up from the darkness, and Go!
Rise up from the darkness, and know
Why you are here, are you listening?

God said Go to the mountain, I’ll be there!
Furious wind split the rocks, but Listen:
God is not in the wind.
After the wind, an earthquake, then a fire,

Trembling ground, singeing air,

But listen: God is not in the earthquake or the fire  .

Then Eliyahu could finally hear…
Kol D’mama Dakah, a voice of Gentle Stillness

  1. Eliyahu has a journey: from the depths of despair to insight and inspiration, aided by 2 malachim messengers that give him food and water, but more importantly the living message he’s not alone! The word malach in Hebrew means messenger and angel, they are the same thing, they are those people in our lives that touch us in some incredible way, They are US when we can be there for someone  Eli journeys from Darkness to light: insight,  inspiration – maybe without coming from the darkness, so yearning , he could not have gained the heights?   Eli’s insight: Shema, Listen, and  WHAT Eliyahu can finally hear that is pretty amazing: he tells us where to find God, and it’s earth shattering and mind blowing stuff:
  2. Kol D’mama daka, voice of gentle stillness – GOD IS HERE, in this voice! Just as revolutionary is knowing where God is NOT:  First thing up is a ruach, wind/spirit that is powerful enough to split mountains, shatter rocks.  One metaphor for God IS ruach, another is Rock, This is crazy – contradicting all CW what do you mean God isn’t in these things. But Eliyahu’s insight is NO. Earthquakes are pretty impressive and so powerful. Waddya mean God’s not here? And then there’s fire – a symbol of energy and spirit Why isn’t God here, and what is that VOICE? What do YOU think Eli’s vision , what is the still small voice?
  3. Maybe this: After the drama in our lives, the struggle, war, fighting, comes the silence pregnant with new hope, new life – That’s where God is!  Look, Eli’s life IS an earthquake, a drama But the insight of Eli’s journey is to Reject drama. This is maverick –we pray that God fashions light AND creates darkness. But as darkness is the absence of light, could the bad stuff be the absence of God?  God’s not in the destruction, Not sitting there zapping people for punishment. God’s in the Good stuff. The creative power of the universe.  What if God were ONLY the force animating creation, the miracle of new life, a baby born, a seedling sprouting, galaxies forming from nebulae, communities from caring individuals. Not in the drama that overwhelms us –A Vision of God worth meditating on, reaching for resonance with.
  4. But can God NOT be in whirlwinds? Well, maybe if we look deep within or beyond – God, and that voice is there – after all, the atoms of air and rocks, and the energy that sends them flying –are connected with the very forces of the universe, our atoms themselves forged in stars that exploded long ago  in the silence of space. In fact even empty space apparently has a field which gives particles reality, mass, it’s NOT empty, but filled with that same music of the spheres the ancients talk of. They meant the invisible laws that run through the fabric of the universe guiding the planets or stars. Maybe God’s sound is in this awe inspiring vibration. Fire and earthquakes even better places where matter and energy meet. Awareness of the majesty and intricacy of creation  can sound pretty beautiful –
  5. Another possibility: Maybe it’s the sound of Light: sound and light criss cross in Torah: at Sinai, we saw the thunder.  Eli has come from darkness of the spirit to the heights of the mountain, and now he can hear – light? What does it sound like?
  6. Or maybe it’s the invisible connections between everything Eli hears, if you could hear connections, what would they sound like, God?, Connections of action and reaction – between the hearts of people. Notice God’s answer to Eli’s prayer of Despair -It’s people. They bring him food and drink – with hands that care, the arms that hug, the voices that reassure. Connections between people. create communities, Connections between creatures that create living systems. In proper connection, parts of this world  combine to more than their sum.. Connections are what Torah’s all about, maybe if we listen this is the harmony we’ll hear.

Where is God? wherever we let God in. HOW? Eli’s insight maybe we can LISTEN to voices of gentle stillness – of other souls whom we can reach, to awareness of the universe,  to the harmony that’s there. Maybe that voice will teach us: Listen for the sounds of:

joy         Harmony                  Nature         Music              Friendship                      Love.

Kol d’mamaa dakah – the voice of gentle stillness, the voice of the most beautiful things in the universe, the song of God

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Comments on: "Voice of Gentle Stillness" (2)

  1. When we are in despair “take my life” and afraid “fearing for his life he fled” – the answer is to quiet onself and listen for God’s voice. A powerful lesson. In the quietness is calm, a place to learn and be open. This is a common secret that religious awareness gives. This is meditation. Many of us are scared of quietness, naturally avoid it. We should learn from Elijah to nurture it, to seek it. That includes me! I notice we always have a brief time for silent prayer at Shabbat services – and I’m struck both by how short a time we give it – and how long sometimes it seems to go on for!

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