“Drop Thy still dews of quietness / Till all our strivings cease.”
The words rang out last weekend in a little sanctuary in Springdale, Arkansas. They still echo sweetly in my ears. Their beauty continues to wash across my soul. And I pray, I believe, that the precious afterglow will remain for many, many days. Indeed, I do not think I will ever forget the beauty of that time, those moments as I lifted my voice and heart with people whose love is far dearer to me than life itself.
I don’t remember a time when I more needed to be bathed in the dew of God’s quietness, to feel the mantle of the deep, rich peace and gentle, timeless strength of the Eternal One descend and wrap itself warmly around my soul. His peace is real, his deep joy present, no matter the “strivings” that threaten the vessels of our lives. His course is clear, his path sure, his calm genuine, even in rough waters and stormy seas.
But, oh, how often we need to be reminded! I so needed to feel his hands enfolding mine, to know yet again what is always true, that not for a single moment of my life have I ever sailed alone. Those sweet syllables, lifted heavenward by loving and lovely voices, joined together in a cacophony of words woven from the hymns, prayers, and readings we shared that day, affirming our faith. All rich and resonant, they were polished to lustrous perfection by layer upon layer of years and years of love.
“Take from our souls the strain and stress / And let our ordered lives confess / The beauty of Thy peace.”
The words rolled on, reverberating in rich tones, connecting us in voice, heart, mind, soul with the Author of that peace, the Giver of that quiet, the Father wrapping his arms around us and enfolding us together with his great “cloud of witnesses.”
Who are those “witnesses”? Surely the great heroes of faith whose names we’ve long known and honored. But also so many more whose lives and stories are joined into cords of courage and commitment to become gifts of God to make all his household strong and united.
I felt myself lifted also onto the shoulders of the particular predecessors of my own heritage’s stream of faith, heroes whose lives are graciously blended by our Father into the mighty rolling flood of his eternal kingdom. Even when those specially loved heroes were present in the flesh, breathing this world’s air, I’ve rarely felt their presence more real, their faith and ours more truly woven by the Spirit into one tapestry of blessing.
The words of the hymn I’ve mentioned were written by John Greenleaf Whittier in 1872. How many times as a child did I sing them in church, or as a boy around my family’s table? But I’ve never sung them with a fuller heart than as a worshiper last Saturday. So, “dear Lord and Father of mankind,” yet again for your “still dews of quietness” and the deep “beauty of Thy peace,” I thank you.
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Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.