Words which needle


The words needle me towards a response.*  They draw me gently out of my silence.  And the longing to write intensifies.

But so does the silence.

…the pain that comes from one’s identity, that grows out of the response to a call, can’t be escaped or pushed aside…

Yet once more my words and my silence battle it out, each desiring the supremacy.  For I have so much to say about what I have seen.

And this perhaps why the long silence.  Lest I say so much about what I have seen.

He led me into the heart of pain, forcing me to recognize that to answer a call as a prophet…is to reject the authority of credentials, of human valuation of any kind, accepting only the authority of the call itself…

As her words goad me, tempt me into speech, I remember why the silence.  Though others may judge, conclude that I am playing to an endgame.  Though I may quite frankly need the affirmation, the credentials, the markers of acceptance.  Though success follows a well-defined path.  Yet I remember.

My heart stills and I remember.  I remember that my lack of interest in controlling outcomes – so studied, yet even so paperthin real – is born of this silence.  That my not-even-mustard-seed faith depends on accepting only the authority of the call itself.  On affirming the reality of what I heard and of what he is calling me to be in this space.  Of speaking to him first but also to him only.

Credentials measure what is quantifiable; they represent results.  

And I don’t want to live a quantifiable life.

A call, on the other hand, is pure process; it cannot be measured, quantified, or controlled by institutions.  People who are called tend to violate the rules in annoying ways.

I am a terrible rule-breaker.  Compliance is written somewhere deep in my DNA.  I like to measure, to quantify, to control.  But God.

God broke in and upended my quantified little life.  The passion like fire in bones will not be constrained by futile endgames.  The unredeemed me wishes it would.  That girl constructs strategies in her sleep.  Uses words to accomplish outcomes, win battles, unmask secrets, climb ladders.

And I remember why the silence.

For in the cacophony of agendas, the co-opting of voices to add power to fleshly ingenuities, only silence permits answer to prophet’s call.


*  The words which needle are Kathleen Norris’ in The Cloister Walk.  They run through this post, the italics calling me into response.  Yet it could perhaps have been any words.  It nearly has been, on multiple occasions in recent months.  Even so, silence seems to have fallen, perhaps the only way I know to make sure that I am listening for his voice more than my own, more than the many voices around me which cry out so strong.

Sometimes I think of the prophetic as speaking.  Perhaps it is.  But it is more listening than speaking and the words, when they come, are for the pleasure only of him who gave them.  The power of my voice as advocate has been largely silenced in these days.  Ironic perhaps for one whose words won fights – whose tenacity in arguing every last point was undisputed – ironic now to fall silent before all save One.

Yet this is where he is leading me…

…and slowly I am learning.

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