The psalmist laments,
You have seen, O Lord; do not be silent!
O Lord, do not be far from me! (Psalm 34:22)
And the prophet Isaiah cries,
After all this, will you restrain yourself, O Lord?
Will you keep silent, and punish us so severely? (Isaiah 64:12)
When we despair and grieve, it can so often feel as though God is silent, or worse, absent. Even in times of plenty, when we are satisfied and safe, we struggle to hear the voice of God.
There are some people who seem to be able to hear God more often than the rest of us. We tend to call these people mystics and attribute special abilities to them, as if they had a sixth sense that allowed them to know God or to sense the sacred.
What if we all have the ability to hear God? What if, rather than being silent, God is subtle? What if, rather than being absent, the sacred is subtle, peaceful and quiet?
The experience of the sacred is usually subtle and mystics seem to be more attuned than others. That sets mystics apart. They seem a little different, even a little suspect, because we do not commonly experience the spiritual at a conscious level in our everyday lives.
What if a mystic is to spirituality as a wine connoisseur is to wine? A true wine expert can tell you where a wine was made, what grapes were used, where they grew, and how old the wine is simply by looking, smelling and tasting. In a similar way, those we call mystics learned to sense and know the sacred. They recognize the image of God in others. The have learned to see the sacred, to be attuned to the subtle signs of grace, to sense the invisible but real connections that bind us together. We, too, can tune our senses and develop our ability to know the presence and action of God in our lives.
We approach Christmas and the gift of God’s incarnation. God became flesh in Jesus, the Christ, so that we might learn to see Christ in one another. God was born as one of us, so that we might learn to see, touch, hear, smell and taste the sacred in God’s creation. The promise of Christmas is that God is not silent. God is not absent. The sacred is here. Our love is an expression of the real, sacred bonds that connect us to God and to one another.