Journey Into Stillness

The curmudgeonly old man from Jericho sat by the busy, dusty roadside leading from that great city. Sounds were magnified as women, men, children and animals bustled by him. Scratching life from begging, unable to see since birth, he was as blind to them as they were to him. He swore under his breath at the noise, the heat and the dirt, and cursed loudly at the mocking children. He had been shouting out the name of that crazy carpenter from the north (he had no idea why), only to be mocked and told to shut up by the crowd around him. The noise was unbearable and the heat more oppressive than he could remember it ever being.

Then it happened. The world fell silent. Crouching in the dirt, he trembled in fear at the sudden silence that pressed in on him. A cool, refreshing breeze swept over him. He heard a muffled voice and a name. An old, familiar name. “Son of Timaeus, what do you want from me?”  The old man opened his eyes. As he scrambled to his feet he saw the silhouette of a man, behind whom and from whom radiant colours blazed in hues of the brightest, rain washed rainbow. As the carpenter spoke, the old man saw the glory in those infinite eyes, brighter than the sun. He stared as Jesus carried on along his way, down towards Jerusalem. To Jerusalem, where the scent from the gardens of olive groves embraces the fragrance of the Madonna lilies of Old Jaffa before they waft out over the Great Sea…

Net curtains billow into the hushed room, flapping wildly. Her breathing is quick and rasping. Through the open window she can hear the distant sound of children playing and laughing in the street. The sweet scent of lilies wafts in from the garden. She cannot open her eyes. Even if she is able to, the bright, blue sky outside and the golden light caressing her wrinkled face will be enveloped in the grey, swirling mists of her blindness. The extent of her physical world is here, in this room.

Not long now. The doctors have left. An angel has arrived, bearing a silver bottle. As the lid is removed, the room is filled with the scent of olive oil. She smiles. She hears the rustling of thousands of feathers, and can feel the caress of a cool breeze on her face. Urgent, tender fingers touch this young woman’s brow. Be calm; be still. The oil is calming. Eyelids flicker open, the dark and the grey give way to the light. The figure appears to her as through a bright, summer cloud. The face staring at her is glowing like the sun itself. A myriad of colours dance and weave around them both. She laughs with joy, with peace.

In our busyness, in our quiet, in our illness and in our health, in our fear and in our joy; where is God in our lives? Do we listen or do we block?

Be still for the presence of the Lord.

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