Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
I Surrender, Hillsong
There are palm trees throughout our neighborhood. Three of them in our front yard, positioned where we can see them from our living room window. When the rain blows in we see the dark green palm fronds blow about, side to side. The tree itself stands firm, never yielding.
Our house in Tennessee had big leafy trees providing a pleasant shade in the summer and bags and bags of leaves in fall. When the winds blew, the trees rustled loudly like maracas in a Mariachi band.
In contrast, the palms thin slivers stay quiet through the wind.
I grew up in a church that was a mixture of happy celebration and reverent quiet.
We clapped to the fast songs and there was almost always someone there to beat the bass drum. We sang our songs with vigor and volume, tambourines waving and, at times, flags flying.
It wasn’t unusual to hear an ‘Amen’ said aloud or even a ‘hallelujah’, the latter most often during one of those rousing songs.
Most of the time the sermon was preached to a quiet group and when we prayed, one person prayed out loud while the rest of us were instructed to ‘bow your heads’ and ‘close your eyes’ and we knew to quiet our mouths save for the few soft sounds of assent. There’d be no shouting out or any other kind of talking during prayer.
Henry attended a Quaker service once where there was no talking during prayer time. None.
I’d heard about other kinds of churches where people prayed out loud at the same time. My brother said he went to one with our uncle and it nearly scared him to death when all those folks started up at the same time.
We were skeptical of the churches known to speak in tongues and we studied up to have the biblical foundation for this odd form of worship.
Sarah Bessey writes, in her upcoming book Out of Sorts, “But we need each other, and we need to learn from each stream, because our stories don’t happen alone; our roots are all tangled together”
This is how God’s spirit works. In some it blows like the loud rustling of leaves from the sturdy oaks and maples, and, in others there is a quiet movement like the palm branches swaying with barely a whisper.
As Sarah again writes, “Let Love be my first language, my mother tongue, whether it’s communicated in English or a thousand tongues for only angels to hear.”
It’s not the voracity or calm the Spirit blows in us, but that it blows and we respond, each as we are moved to its beauty, because our roots are all tangled together. Amen