When he was sequestered in his cave, the prophet Elijah may have faced some of the same mental vagaries that I am dealing with. I regularly breathe the same question that must have come to Elijah’s mind as he waited: “What do you want me to do, God?”
It’s been over eight months now that I’ve stayed at home most of the time. With my pace of life slowed and narrowed to a seeming sameness, I sometimes have to think twice about what day it is. This similitude of passing time could overwhelm me, but I choose to think differently about this way of living. To find God’s still, small voice.
These long days of calm have been a blessing. What might look like repetitive monotony actually presents a challenge: Find the smallest variations in routines, perspectives or tasks. Then apply creative energy to enlarge those deviations into important, wonderful, surprising or motivating thoughts.
I read the newspaper each morning. With this quiet routine comes the invitation: What small thing can you notice that goes beyond lurid headlines? What news story, feature or editorial shows that an idea, event or person is attention-worthy? Obituaries tell me about the exemplary lives of loved ones who have died. Sports box scores hint at the possible vulnerabilities and joys of players, team owners and fans. Puzzle pages come at my brain as a stimulating gift. Business news reminds me how tough it is for people I know to make a living. The comics nudge my sense of humor back into full-throated guffaws.
God’s voice whispers out from small changes in my otherwise similar routines. Perhaps that’s why, like Elijah, I am ready to take up what comes next! (See that part of Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 19ff.)