Grime and Glory in the Silence

This is one of my quiet spaces: My green bench.

It’s not really mine, this green bench:


It belongs to the County Water Recreational District where I live. But in my heart, I own it.

Perched on the bank of a crystal clear river, this bench has become one of my sacred spaces…a space where I can choose to sit in silence no matter what state my soul is in.

I write there…words in journals that are for my eyes only…and God’s.

I wrestle there…words I’ve spoken out loud that if heard, others might judge as ‘cussing’ and ‘certainly unnecessary’, their judgment leaving me in the dust of their condemnation. But I believe God has heard and He has stayed.

I cry there, an amount of tears that sometimes feel ‘unGodly’, as though my faithfulness is measured by my weakness. Sometimes I feel as though my tears have been and are enough to fill a second river. And I believe God holds them.

I laugh there. From my gut, when in the midst of my grime, I taste the freedom of glory that comes in the whispers of gentle kindness…

“A leaf swirling downward from a tree on invisible currents of air,

leading it to rest on the gently flowing water,

A fish hook poking out of the dirt by my feet,

reminding me that He is a fisher of men – and women.

I laugh at my response, “I’m hooked.”

The hawk circling above in the sky and the owl I hear but can’t see.”

The sounds, sights and smells of goodness. They come. If I stay put in the darkness that wars against them, the darkness that sometimes comes first, I miss them.

I once feared silence because in the silence the grime of my darkness comes to soil my glory.

These are a few entries from my personal journals:

Journal Entry

June 17, 2015

Sacred space: My green bench.


In the Bible it says that you are praying for me.

How can it be? It does not feel like it.

My chest is heavy with the anxiety and worry of how and what to do with my past, my present and how and when life will happen in the future. To think that you know my heart and that you are praying for me is mind boggling.

 But the words I read in the Bible say so. You know and hear my true heart, when my belief has been “I can’t face my own darkness…” and in the silence condemnation takes me. I feel the urge to run. My feet want to run fast to outrun guilt, outrun shame.

 But perhaps the lie is being exposed?

 The lie that the accusations are true and I can’t hear you in my inner heart. The lie that I am on my own and my grime outweighs your glory. The voices of darkness and fear come for me – my jealousy, my resentment, my pain and anger, the betrayals. It is the grime of my soul…the thoughts that clamor loudly for my attention. My body reacts in anxious anticipation of the gavel. I feel my resistance. Will I accept this as my only truth?

 No wonder I feel the urge to run.

 Who wouldn’t?

 But. The lie is exposed by your Light.

 I listen in the silence and if need be until I can hear I read your Words to me and I feel my body, mind, heart and soul relax into you.

 Yes. I believe. Even when I waiver, I believe you don’t. You stand. No matter if I lean into your kindness or run from the darkness that comes for me in the silence, I believe you stay. You wait for my return. Thank you.

 Today, I rest in you. I relax in the truth that my heart holds both grime and glory.

 I wrote that Journal entry in June. The truth is, each time I sit in silence I get to choose if I stay or if I run. I’ve done both.

I wonder. Do you have sacred spaces to sit in silence? If you do, who does the silence say you are?

I hope you will risk listening, and if the darkness comes, will you consider staying with your self long enough to receive Kindness?


Post Script:

After writing this post and sharing my deep thoughts, I want to share a little of my lighthearted craziness as well:

Journal Entry

April 20, 2016

Sacred space: The night.   My bed.

Jesus. I finally admit I am crazy. After writing my post today, I drove to the orthopedic surgeon (which btw feels like doom to me).   I noticed a song pierced the silence when my Bluetooth connected my phone to my car radio. I thought of you and had to laugh at my craziness…

“Whose gonna love you baby? Who’s gonna help you through the night?”

The Four Seasons

Some might think this is sacrilege and that’s OK with me.   It is the sound I heard in my silence today.

photo-4Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 26 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.