Beneath the Chaos

Beneath the Chaos

BY COURTNEY ESTEVES | January 29, 2024
Sunday’s Readings

Well before I knew the term for it, I have been someone who ruminates. Negative self-talk can be all-consuming, and I believe that this dimension of my life is the closest that I have come to the experience of the “man with the unclean spirit” in today’s Gospel. In previous encounters with this text, I have focused on Jesus’ command to “Come out of him!” Today, though, my attention is drawn instead to Jesus’ first word in the face of tumult: “Quiet!”

Reading this, my imagination dashes to swimming amidst the massive waves of the Jersey Shore. As a child, I learned that beneath the rough part of a wave is calm water that you can glide through if you dive deeply enough. There were several times when I was tossed about while caught inside a breaking wave. Many more times, though, I managed to dive into the sweet spot and was left in awe of how still the ocean could be amidst immense forceful motion.

Beneath the Chaos

Inspired by today’s Gospel, ordained United Methodist minister Jan Richardson composed a beautiful “Blessing in the Chaos,” which includes her prayers for “a stilling of the voices…that have made their home in you, that go with you even to the holy places but will not let you rest…” When I experience ruminating thoughts, I pray for these graces, which I would summarize as graces of quieting.

Rather than perceiving an on/off switch to my internal voice, I am interpreting Jesus’ exclamation of “Quiet!” as a reminder of the possibilities to dim the brightness, turn down the volume, or lower the heat on that which might otherwise consume me. I know that I cannot eliminate the chaos of these thoughts entirely, but I may be able to find a more peace-filled place beneath them if I dive deeply enough alongside God.

I wonder: 

  • For what or for whom do you pray for graces of quieting? 
  • What practice(s) might support your descent into “the quiet that lies beneath the chaos” (in the words of Richardson)? 

Reference: Blessing in the Chaos © Jan Richardson.

2 replies
  1. Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    For what or for whom do you pray for graces of quieting? Courtney gives us the picture of the quiet part of the waves in the ocean.All that have the experience knows that call to quiet and the peace that comes with it. In my own chaos, I ask the Holy Spirit to be with me and stay with me in the midst of the chaos so I cn determine His will for me in these particular moments. I follow His lead in teh midst of the chaos.

  2. sonja
    sonja says:

    Travelling amidst commuters in rush hour public transport I am surrounded by chaos. Yet, it only takes three breaths to recentre, be still, and be open to divine grace flowing through me to help others with my voice.
    I ask for help from my spiritual masters and surround myself with the protection of my archangels. Then I am but an instrument in God’s hands.


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