1 Kings 19:11-13:
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
This is a popular Bible verse and one that has always stuck with me. This is probably my favorite Bible verse although I never understood why. I guess there’s something so comforting in knowing that God chose not to be in the powerful, violent, fearful wind, earthquake or fire, but in the gentle whisper. Throughout my life this verse took on different meanings. At the end of high school when I was discerning becoming a religious sister (I come from a Catholic tradition) this verse brought me a lot of comfort and even more frustration. At that time in my life, this verse told me that God was not going to yell out to me where I was being called. God was not going to announce it with an earthquake or a brilliant fire or an earth-shattering wind, but rather would reveal my vocation to me in a gentle whisper. One that required interior silence and even more prayer, two things I don’t have much patience for. After discerning that becoming a nun was not for me, throughout college this verse helped me with my everyday discernment of what path God wants me to take.
Now, I find myself thinking about this Bible verse in a whole different light. I’m currently finding myself discerning if Catholicism is right for me. Since coming out as gay and being in a same-sex relationship, coming from a conservative Catholic tradition I’m finding myself dealing with a lot of earthquakes, too many fires, and countless shattering winds. And all of them being defended as “of God.” A condemning homily, lost friends, glaring stares from said lost friends, being spoken to about my “sinful behavior” and the list goes on… Those who use the Bible or their faith teachings as earthquakes to break people, fires to burn them and winds to shatter their inherent dignity and worth.Yet this verse brings me peace. God is not in those. God is in the gentle whisper: a kind smile, a warm welcome, a safe space, an open church, unending love and support, a gentle word.
There’s two things I take away from this verse at this point in my life. First, there will be earthquakes, and winds, and fires. But then, there will be a whisper and God will be found.