Out of the Silence of this Kampala Night

Kampala, Uganda,    6 June 2010

I will be silent and hear what the Lord God will utter within me.”

But where and how do the depths of Thy silence flow into this tiny, weakening frame?

Where and how does the moment come when “everything is reversed”?

Where is Thy blessing?   Where is Thy hope?

How do we hear the secret soundless voice of Thy silence in the chatter of this superficial speech?

Out of the silence of sleep, I wake within the darkness of this Kampala night.

To ask if this ringing in my ears, like sacred music,

Rants merely more empty chatter of an idle mind,

     Or is it a moment of your grace,

          A hint of eternity breaking into time?

Out of the depths of this immense confusion of our human situation,

Out of this exploding conflict of demands for criminal justice on the Earth,

Springs an intimation certain as it is unknown.

In the quiet of this hotel — sounds of the city wafting through the open windows,

Like hints of a long forgotten secret message:

     Where is Thy love?

Out of the accounts of horrendous violence and cruelty,

Out of the poverty and squalor of this human misery and deprivation,

Out of the darkness — a still silent voice intimates,

That the time is neither right nor wrong,

For I cannot recall the promises that I made:

     Where is Thy truth?

Out of the struggle within this fragile heart,

Out of its ego-centric battle among this multitude of egos,

Out of this constant chatter of images and emotions,

I cry for Thy help,

Intimations of a certainty long since abandoned:

     Where is Thy justice?

For the hope that flows from the kiss of God,

Oh, Thou beside me in the wilderness!

For the love that flows from the blessing of God,

Oh, Thou who sing of foundations deeper than death!

For the justice that cries out to embrace our frailty,

Demands that we act in confusion and despair,

With only your silence as a guide,

With only your unknowable presence as a hope.

You come on the quiet feet of gentle night,

And enter this frail frame with your secret song,

That we must trust beyond all trust,

That we must hope beyond all hope,

That we must pray in the midst of our despair–

That we must sing the song of the Lord,

Whose verses have no words,

That we must dance the dance of the Lord,

Whose movements flow forth motionless,

We must play this music,

That strikes no chord,

That plucks no string,

Yet vibrates at the foundations of all things,

The emptiness-fullness of the silent sounds,

Arising from the depths,

Arising from the gentle music of this Kampala night,

In which “our little life is rounded with a sleep,”

We enter once again that quiet dance,

That soundless sound, that silent speech,

Emerging in the darkest heart of Africa,

Where we hear your gentle voice,

Calling us once again to remember,

What we have never known,

A call to faithfulness,

To Thou to whom we cannot cling,

Out of the secret silence,

     Comes that wordless-word,

          That the Lord God utters once again within.

*    *    *    *    *