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NOTIONS AND RUMINATIONS God speaks in the quiet, and in that quiet, we discover we want to follow Christ

      Sometimes, breaking Scripture down to the basic elements of subject and verb can be fodder for prayer, for Lectio Divina. Take Mark 3:7, for example: “Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him.”

      Now, break that down to this: “Jesus departed…multitude followed.” And in turn, break that down to this: “departed…followed.”

      As Christians, we are followers of a person. That person is a shepherd, and Christians recognize his voice. If the shepherd moves this way, we follow; if the shepherd moves that way, we do likewise...

      ...At least in theory.

      Human beings, and this includes Christians, want to be shepherds, though. Such desire is not new. Human beings have always desired to lead, as opposed to follow, just ask Adam and Eve. Our current culture encourages that as well. Here are lines from just three popular songs:

  –    Go your own way

  –    I did it my way

  –    I’d rather die than listen to you

With that in mind, I want to introduce, here, Norbert Blei.

      Norbert Blei was born in Chicago in 1935, and he died up in Sister Bay, Wisc. in 2013. He was a writer and teacher who wrote, mainly, about life in Door County, Wisc. I have no idea what his religious affiliation, if any, was. From my reading of Blei, which is not exhaustive, he never betrays any religious tendencies. However, I am convinced the man was touched by God. His words betray that. Listen to this; it is a long quotation, but worthwhile. The quotation is from an essay entitled “In Praise of Country Darkness” In fact read it aloud:

      “To know the holy mystery within ourselves, we need the country, the woods, the wilds, the very absence of light to better see and find ourselves in our nocturnal journeying, whether sitting alone in a chair with the lights turned off; whether lying awake in bed near a window with a view of the fields, woods or water, or out under the stars in a sleeping bag; or stepping into the darkness at any hour of the night, any season, for no reason other than the need to disappear there.”

      The key word in that paragraph is in the last sentence: “Disappear.”

      Now, back to Mark 3:7. We can’t follow Jesus unless we “disappear” from all those distractions that keep us from following Christ. If a seemingly non-religious person such as Blei can see the value of “disappearing,” should not we followers of Christ be similarly as adamant on “disappearing” so that we can follow Christ?

      Listen to one more text from Blei; this from an essay entitled “The Solitary Walker.”

      “A walk with someone else beside you, in front of you, or behind you, qualifies your steps, your direction, your meaning and mood…A walk, to be most meaningful, most meditative, most astonishing, must be solitary. Talk destroys quiet perspective.”

      Blei is a man to be given attention, because he’s on to something. That something is this: We can talk all we want about social justice; we can quote Matthew 25:31-46 until we’re blue in the face in order to make ourselves feel superior to others, but unless we shut up, listen and follow Jesus, then all we’re doing is destroying the quiet perspective. Because we can’t learnfrom Jesus until we follow and listen. And, one of the best times to listen and follow Jesus is on a solitary walk or at night in the dark, or pondering on your bed when you are still.

      I like taking walks in the winter. The cold burns my cheeks and makes me feel more alive. Few folks, if any, are out and about, and so the air is still and quiet - all that is conducive to prayer. I have no idea if Blei was a praying man, but he is certainly on the path to it in regard to the passages I have quoted here.

      We are in the heart of Lent. My advice to you is to take a walk by yourself and listen. Don’t talk

to God, listen to God. God will speak to you in the quiet. And in that quiet you will discover that you

will want to follow Christ.  

      Follow Christ all the way to Easter glory.


      Deacon Mark Plaiss teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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