NO QUESTIONS – NO ANSWERS

The week following Good Shepherd Sunday always has me feeling a bit quieter inside.     “We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture….”  the psalmist says.    There is a stillness in a safe pasture, peace beside still waters;  the activities and uncertainties  from outside the pasture fall silent when the Shepherd is present.

In keeping with this Sunday’s meditations, I’ve been spending more time just sitting quietly on the back deck.   Godlfish in the pond down there near the edge and turtles drifting nearby.     Squirrels playing up and down the tree trunks.   Birds all over,  up above.   Deer walking slowly through the woods, snapping twigs as they pass.   

Once I put the camera away, and once I get used to the noise that all the critters make,  then I begin to think about the peace and stillness of this place.   And then I wonder what I can hear in that stillness.

I thought of Knock, which I made reference to a couple postings ago.  I asked:  “Remember this place?”   but I  shouldn’t have asked that of many who have never heard of what happened there, a little over a hundred years ago.

So, imagine another “still place” — a faraway place in Knock, Ireland, and some people are walking past their familiar church, going from one place to another, in a quieter, slower age.     There is a fine misty rain coming down, and a feeling of something pending in the air…something holy….something religious.

The  people sense a  light or a glow beneath a gable  of the church.   They walk more closely to the church, and they begin to see some figures there, not against the wall of the church building itself, but at a  litle distance in front of the wall.   They are in white, and being well-versed in their religion and in the knowledge of the people in the Gospels,  the fifteen witnesses recognize the figures.  

Although the tableau was a little off-center, according to the witnesses,  the figures were focused on the Lamb on the Altar, standing in front of a cross.  There were small angel figures, bowing in adoration.  To the side was St. John, with a “Gospel” in his hands, as though ready to teach the Gospel truth about the Lamb of God.   The Virgin Mary was there, and St. Joseph was there, inclining his head slightly, in respect.   

It was an apparition, plain and simple.  It looked and felt heavenly.  But there was no explanation to them , not from any of the figures before them, neither in their ears,  nor in their thoughts.   No words.  The figures appeared in silence and remained silent.

Why?  What does it mean?   Where is the message?   What are we supposed to learn  from this?  What are we supposed to do?   What is the point?   What is the lesson?

The questions themselves shatter the stillness and bring a kind of utilitarian complexity to the event.

And yet, throughout the 130 years afterwards, the apparition draws many millions, and teaches those who can learn in the silence of their hearts.

I may not write about Knock again, not anytime soon, but I think I can say I know how the meaning can begin to come.

The figure that the people recognized as the Mother of the Lamb appeared in a white gown with four flowing folds, graceful and full of dignity.   But it was her hands that they noticed most.  They were extend slightly and about to be folded together in prayer, but they seemed to be reaching out first, to invite all people to prayer, deep prayer, pure, holy, dignified prayer to Our God.  

If ever we can achieve this, we will have also achieved a state of profound stillness in our soul.   This is when we’re ready to learn what the apparition at Knock came to tell.

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