“Before we begin our worship let us find stillness in a moment of silence” said the Minister.
We are in the 11th century Abbey on the Island of Inchcolm in the Forth. We have rushed from the ferry to the shelter of this large vaulted hall in the historic remnant of pre-reformation Scotland. We have come from our three churches this Sunday to celebrate communion ecumenically. The clergy bringing the communion vessels, and the fair linen cloth to set up the altar, the scratch choir collect music from the conductor, and the people pick up chairs and unfold them unto rows.
As I sit in the following silence I listen.
A baby is crying. This baby is crying all the grief of the world. The families caught up in civil war in Syria, are crying that cry. My friend whose mother is dying in a nearby hospital is crying that cry. And my own personal griefs too, I am crying that cry.
I hear the voices of children as they explore the spiral stairs and chimneys, the cellars and lookouts of the complex building; joyful, excited voices, full of curiosity and discovery. In them I hear all the striving of the world, the research of scientists, the adventuring of explorers, the endeavours of pioneers. In them I hear all the joy and fun of people relaxing and refreshing their spirits. I relax and prepare for refreshment and renewal.
I hear the late-comers shifting their chairs with a screech. I remember all those involved in organising our society, our politicians and administrators. I remember those affected by the changes in society, the screech of discomfort, the awkward adjustments. And I bring myself to this worship, my own adjustments as I grow older.
The sounds and the silence I offer to you, O God.