Circle of Quiet
Sunday 15 April 2012
Read John 21:4-14
‘Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish’ (v 13).
After Easter, when Peter and his friends go fishing in Galilee, it may be in part for the respite they’d known at the lake. Some people know where to find their circle of quiet. In her book, A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L’Engle describes needing to find hers one summer when a dozen or so from the four generations of her family shared an old farmhouse: ‘My special place is a small brook in a green glade, a circle of quiet from which there is no visible sign of human beings … [there] I move slowly into a kind of peace that is indeed marvellous.’
A Christian retreat centre on New York’s Hudson River hosts a conference for those who seek God, but feel brain weary from being bombarded by society’s countless verbal and written messages. Even those who work with words for a living need a break from the barrage of words. The beauty of creation, art or music can help. While living within a few miles of that river, my husband and I have delighted in walking the river’s quiet wooded west bank trails in all seasons. At times we’ve sat at the river’s edge to think and pray. It’s been a personal mini-retreat and balm for us.
We visited the river before supper early one spring. The region had recently experienced strong storms that toppled trees and left many homes without power. The devastation capped a particularly harsh winter. The mounds of driftwood thrown up on the rocky shore testified to the river’s recent turbulence. But that evening the river was placid, without a ripple. The visual calm and silence were palpable. It was like the relief a day of azure skies and freshly scrubbed air brings after a typhoon or hurricane.
After the crash of Good Friday and upsurge of Easter, when the disciples unexpectedly meet the risen Christ on the shore, he knows the flotsam in their lives and offers them food and companionship in a circle of quiet. After they’ve eaten he begins the dialogue toward restoration.
Are we meeting him in these post-Easter days?