YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER
1 “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.”
Thousands of years ago, a devout person, tossed about the storms of life, knelt down before God in the silence of the Jewish Temple. Only when God had penetrated the depths of his soul was he able to say these words, “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.” Oh, you ancient singer, you appear to us like an image of an ancient dream that we long for, yet find so distant from us. We are attracted to you, but we no longer understand you. Teach us something about the silence of the soul, the soul that waits for God.
As an infant becomes still on her mother’s breast, as a youth is silent as he looks up to his heroes, as the crying child longs for the mother’s hand to be laid upon it’s brow to banish all its cares, as the husband finds his anxiety stilled in the glance of his beloved wife, as true friends become silent when looking into each other’s eyes, as a sick person is set at ease by the doctor’s presence, as older people become still in the face of death, so our souls are to be stilled from their unrest, agitation, and hurriedness, before the eyes of God. Our thirst is to be quenched, our desires become true happiness, as we find out rest from the heat of the day in the shadow of God’s hand. Our souls are to cast off care and burdens and find freedom in the glance of God; they are to be silent in reverence and adoration. “For God alone my soul waits.”
Being silent means being unable to say anything more; it means that a strange and dear hand has placed itself on our lips to make us be still; it means giving ourselves totally- capitualating to the overwhelming power of the Other, the totally Other; it means for a moment no longer seeing oneself at all, but only the Other. But it also means waiting, waiting for the other to say something to us. Being silent before God means making room for God so that he may speak the first and last word to us, and then receiving that word, whatever that might be, for all eternity; it means not wanting to justify ourselves, but wanting to hear whether God wants to say something about our justification. To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively and obey. The time of silence is a time of responsibility, a time when we must answer to God and ourselves; but it is also a time of blessedness, because it is a time when we live in the peace of God. “For God alone my soul waits.” That means: “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.