One of the lasting lessons I gleaned from my time with one of my past spiritual directors was when she told me that my job as a pastor was to notice the rustling of the Holy Spirit and then respond. I have always appreciated this approach which is different from all my efforts to plan ahead for mission and ministry. In the past I am confident there were times when, in my focus on a plan, I have missed a subtle rustling of the Spirit.
And why the word, rustling? It conjures up images of an animal's slight movement in the brush, or a breeze that picks up a few fallen leaves. These are images that require a trained eye to see and to notice. These are not images like an explosion or loud sound or a tree falling in the woods, images that we cannot help but notice.
The story of Elijah in the cave comes to mind. God was not in the wind, the fire, or the earthquake. These are events that capture the eye and mind. But God was in the still small voice. Apparently, it is part of the nature of God to speak to us through the small things. And small things require an attentive mind and eyes that can notice the still small voice or the slight rustling of the Spirit.
I wonder how our United Methodist Church, in all our attempts to reinvent ourselves and reverse the decline, will create space to listen to the still small voice of God? Perhaps it is even possible that as we deal with our systemic anxiety, we could miss that rustling of the Spirit. I want to listen and look for any message God is trying to say to us.