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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Jin Lee

Sounds of Faith

Not everything we feel has to be said. We are innately observant, acutely perceptive beings. I think this is especially true when it comes to love. Love can love deeply without words. Even love that is afraid to speak because of the chasm between us has power to have its effect

We know when we are loved; we feel it in our bones when we are not. When there is love between us, I don’t worry about being completely understood, I don’t worry about being correct. There is an imperfection to our connection that makes it that much more trustworthy. 

I find my morning prayers falling into silence these days. Words drift into quiet. Silence drifts into presence. Or maybe silence was always there. I am becoming more acquainted with silence.

Most Saturday mornings, I am sitting in the middle of a cacophony. A gathering at dawn where tong-sung-gi-do is practiced. It is a practice of communal prayer rising from the spirituality of Korean Christians. Each one prays, yet we pray in one voice. You can shout your words and still be folded safely into the symphonic chaos of 300 other prayers. If you haven’t been around Korean churches, you may not know how fast Korean people pray. Fast and long. And loud. It must be my roots in the Korean church that oddly makes my weekly ritual not so odd. 

Those Saturday mornings feel distant now. Without the usual rush of the morning's tasks, I am able to stay in solitude longer these days. Long enough to let my praying words fade into quiet. Long enough to let my petitions drown into silence. It’s like the strange calm of an ocean's murmur. When you swim down past the disorienting surface of sloshing white, you discover the pulsing stillness of blue beneath. Time seems to be kindly waiting. Waiting for you to know the gift of the quiet. 

If I can pause, even for a few moments, to not worry about running out of breath, I can rest in this secret place for a short while. I will hear holy sounds rarely heard from above, where life’s real-time pace and equally holy tasks bid my attention.

In revealing silence, I find my incompleteness before God a source of faith. I find the inconsistency of my attention span, the indifference of my soul to its thirst, the imperfection of my uttered and unspoken thoughts, to be a confession of faith. For here, I can only rely on the love of God that fills the space in and around me, above and beneath. Here, I have nothing to prove. Nothing I must express. Nothing I must get correct.

Though I am silent, I am unafraid of being misunderstood. For Love that is from everlasting to everlasting is trustworthy in every season. 

There are no words for the deepest things. 

Words become feeble when mystery visits and prayer moves into silence. 

The best words are born in the fecund silence that minds the mystery.

-John O’Donahue, Eternal Echoes


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