Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away."
He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mask and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
-1 Kings 19:9.5-13
"The world is quieter now. You just have to listen. You can hear God speaking." These are the words of a nurse named Anna in a Will Smith film from several years ago after a virus ravaged the world. Smith's character, Dr. Neville cannot hear God's voice. He's experienced too much loss and pain. The tragedy claims his family, his city, his career. And while he's worked hard to find himself a new normal, he's lost his ability to see beauty, to find hope, to hear God speaking.
In the passage above, Elijah is seeking the Lord, enthusiastically, zealously, in fear of his life, as Dr. Neville was seeking a cure, as well as a sense of normalcy, fearing for his life and the survivors. Elijah is so intent on his search he almost misses the Lord. God was not speaking in the big calamities, but I'm the stillness that followed. Some people were quick to assume God was speaking in the pandemic or that God was speaking in the quarantine. Perhaps God was punishing us or testing us. I think it's more likely that God is there in the stillness as we shelter in place. God is appearing in quiet hospital rooms with the sick and dying. God is in the family gatherings for online worship. God is in the backyards that have been empty for the busyness of schedules before now. God is in the kitchens and dens where teachers prepare lessons. God is speaking to us about our hectic and poorly prioritized former lives.
Like Elijah, we don our masks and follow God into the stillness, and we each seem to be learning lessons about ourselves, our families, our society. We are learning that we have the time to pursue better things when we slow down. We are learning school is better left to the creativity of our teachers than the pressure of our testing. Learning that many jobs are better done from homes than offices. Learning that the closeness of worship was the bread of life for our week. Learning that the health and healthcare of our neighbor is deeply entangled in our own health and care and our responsibility that all might share that access. We are learning that because the world is quieter now, God is speaking and we just have to listen. What have you heard in the stillness? How will it change your life and priorities and commitments going forward?