Archived Story

Hearing God in the quiet places

Published 9:50am Friday, June 6, 2014

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Kenneth Jensen

“Be still and know that I am God.” — Psalms 46:10

Last week the country lost an iconic poet. Maya Angelou, 86, was the winner of an Emmy, several Grammies and our nation’s Medal of Freedom. Her early life as a black girl growing up in the Jim Crow South was defined by tragedy, pain and poor choices.

 Kenneth Jensen
Kenneth Jensen

She was raped as a 7-year-old and a single mother at 16. She worked jobs that included everything from a fry cook in a hamburger joint to a shake dancer in nightclubs to taking paint off cars with her hands in a mechanic’s shop. From this, she rose from the ashes to become an author, entertainer, public speaker, civil rights advocate and an official of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

One can only wonder how certain individuals rise above such horrendous circumstances. Her final tweet on the night before her death may hold the secret. Maya tweeted: “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

Sunday, Christians around the world will gather to celebrate Pentecost, a religious festival signifying the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Christian community. Some may ask: “Where is the evidence of the Spirit today?” The visual and audible signs of the Spirit present upon and within the disciple on that fateful day appear to have come and gone.

Our inability to sense the presence of the Spirit today may well be due to the Spirit’s voice being drowned out by the meaningless noise around us. The Spirit is suppressed by the busyness and meaningless activity that fills each hour of our day.

Maybe the Spirit is speaking to us on this Pentecost through the voice of Maya Angelou: “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”


Albert Lea resident Kenneth Jensen is a retired ELCA pastor.