What Are We Singing: Lead Me to the Cross
- Friday, August 05, 2011
A friend of mine – another writer – was visiting in my home. I told her one evening that when she got up the next morning I would most likely be sitting at my desk in my home office, typing away at some work which needed to be turned in. Of course she said that wasn’t a problem. She had some reading she wanted to do anyway.
Sure enough, the following morning when she appeared at my office door, coffee cup in hand, hair tussled and eyes bleary, I was at my desk, typing away. From my computer came the sounds of my fingertips flitting along the keyboard and some music from the speakers.
“How do you work with music playing?” she asked.
I shrugged. “I dunno. I find I work better with it than without.”
She shook her head. “Not me. I find I need absolute quiet.”
Let me ask you a question; do you turn on the television first thing when you walk into the house? Or the radio? What about in the car? If not the radio, do you find you have to jabber away on your cell phone while driving down the highway? Does the quiet drive you bonkers?
What then about the highway of life? Does noise consume your day … now that you think about it? Coincidentally, until I mentioned it, did you really think about it at all? Have you ever really stopped to listen to all the noise around you?
I can think of only two times when I found myself surrounded by absolute silence. Once was in Israel. I was standing inside the Basilica of the Transfiguration on top of Mount Tabor and I was completely alone. Inside the hallowed limestone walls, I heard nothing from outside. Unless I took a step, I heard nothing inside. I stood near the altar in the crypt, awed by the stained glass depiction of Jesus flanked by Moses and Elijah. Then, the whisper of a sound caused me to turn. One of the double doors at the front of the church had been left ajar. Light exploded from between them. For a moment, magnificence and silence merged together, nearly bringing me to my knees.
The second time was while walking in the Jeremiah Smith National Forest. Ambling along, going deeper and deeper between giant redwoods, I realized that when I stood still, there was absolutely no sound. Not a rustle of leaves. Not a chirp from the birds or the chatter of squirrels. No cars whizzing by. No planes overhead. Total silence. “This is your sanctuary,” I said to God, realizing just where I was.
Quiet My Soul Remember
In the contemporary hymn, Lead Me to the Cross, singers quickly come to a line which goes, “Quiet my soul remember …”
It’s the second line of the song. Only the second. The first is this: Savior I come …
Recently, while listening to glory-filled music on my computer (and while tapping away on the keyboard), I heard this song. My fingers stopped in their labor and my heart tuned in. When the song was done, I looked up the lyrics online and was caught, not by the way the tune forces us to sing the song, but by the words themselves. What if, I thought, we sang it thusly: Savior, I come quiet …?
In other words, in order for my soul to remember (as the words continue) “redemptions hill,” I must first “come quiet.” I must first tune out all that life is throwing at me. The television. The music. The kids at play. The phone. The neighbor cutting his lawn way too early in the morning so he can beat the heat. And, most importantly, all the voices in my head whispering “to do” lists … among a notebook full of other things.
My dear friend Robert Benson once said to me, “Eva Marie, the only person who knows what God has whispered into your heart is you. But you won’t hear him if you don’t hush.” Those words literally changed the way I approach God. And allow him to approach me, quite frankly. Too often he has called … but I have not been able to hear.
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