The calm amidst the storm

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, April 29, 2021

In last week’s column, Angela Kaquitts shared her experience of silence as she paused along the shore of Lac des Arcs. “The silence calmed my restless soul,” she said. This has prompted some inspiring responses from other readers, such as former Cochranite Jim Amsing.

Jim is a retired police officer and chaplain whose writings have long been an inspiration to many. He is well acquainted with the stormier parts of his profession that keep grabbing the headlines lately – and in particular, the use of excessive, and too often fatal, force.

“Being calm under pressure and stress is helped by an inner spirituality that won’t use any more force than is necessary for a situation,” he says. “Compassion and empathy allow officers to find better solutions.

“The problem is that sometimes officers lose sight of the correct response because of personal and professional stressors. One of the big contributing factors is constant exposure to toxic trauma. When there is a healthy way to cope with fear, anxiety, stress and physical, mental and spiritual anguish, then you have officers making good decisions most of the time.”

So, how does one grow in this inner spirituality?

In his own life, Jim found a spiritual starting point in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God” – wisdom found in the context of God being “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” (See my Nov. 7, 2019 column on his book, Spirituality: Inner Armor, and go to his website,

“When I was working as a police officer, this stillness in God allowed me to hear His voice to save my life and the lives of others in many deadly-force encounters. Ultimately, it led to my vocation as a police chaplain.”

In that spirit, Jim responded to last week’s column as follows:

IN OUR BUSY WORLD with instant communication, and the tyranny of cell phones, trying to find the space for silence is challenging. With the call for social distancing in recent times we have an opportunity to find that space for stillness.

God calls us to pray without ceasing. With a right disposition of the heart, that is open to communication and intimacy with God, our lives become a prayer. The Greek monks of Mt. Athos practice interior prayer that is continual while they are awake, even during external speech. This type of interior prayer takes a lot of persistence, practice, and stillness of spirit.

Our soul needs time for reflection, tranquility, and openness to hear the voice of God internally. Without being still we can’t hear the whisper of our Father’s voice. We need quiet to recognize what the message of hope is.

We humans are the barrier to communication with God. In all the busyness, confusion and noise of life we find it hard to carve out space for what our soul really requires. Internal peace, tranquility, and calm can only be experienced through silence that anticipates revelation.

God speaks to us through nature, guardian angels, sacred scripture, prayer, church, family and friends, inspired persons, and in the quiet whisper in our inner being. He wishes to have an intimate relationship with us and has given each one of us the gift of free will to choose if we desire this intimacy.

For those who hear the voice of God and respond in love, a joy and inner harmonic congruence occurs. Our inner nature is in balance with our outer actions. This person knows they are beloved of God and face life’s challenges with an inner armor of courage. With the psalmist we can say, “To be near God is my happiness, I have made the Lord God my refuge” (Psalm 73:28).

THANKS, JIM, for this reminder.

© 2021 Warren Harbeck

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