God said to Elijah,
‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord,
for the Lord is about to pass by.’ 
Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; 
and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 
and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; 
and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle
and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

I Kings 19:11-13

A number of years ago, I taught at a boarding school that had to end the year overnight, a month early, because of a flood. As the last girl sat with me in the common room of our dorm, waiting to be picked up by her family who were driving up from New York, she said to me, grieving, “Why did this happen, Rev. Talcott?” 

After a pause, I said, “It happened because it rained, Rosemary. It rained a lot.”  

Rosemary had assumed that God was somehow in wind, earthquake, fire, and flood; and she had quite understandably wanted to know why God would be there.

In First Kings, Elijah assumed the opposite. The noisy, destructive, and threatening are not God passing by; God does not take that form. It was not until the threat subsided that Elijah knew it was time to come out of his cave and meet the Lord.

It is in the exhausted silence after the threat—or between the threats—that God will be waiting for us. When we emerge from our caves, what will we hear in His still, small voice?

-- The Rev. Barbara Talcott, St. Mark’s School

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