Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Making and Finding Silence in Advent

We are now in the first week of Advent.  I love Advent; I love what it's all about -- waiting for God and, as we wait, trying to make a home for God in our hearts.  It's a liturgical season that is, in a sense, all about getting pregnant -- getting pregnant with Christ.  Each of us, female or male, old or young, can help bring Christ into this world.  Each of us is responsible for saying yes to God's call and now we wait for God's presence to grow in our souls rather than in a womb.

For me, silence has to play a role in all this waiting.  Otherwise I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the commercial enterprise that is Christmas 2011, a season of bargains and parties and food and outward trappings that often fail to lead me back to the spirit of quiet possibility -- the sacredness -- found in "mangers" both ancient and modern.  (There's a "manger" two hundred yards to your right or left, if you're willing to keep your eyes open and you don't require farm animals or straw.  Humble, unassuming places where one can be open to the in-breaking of God in our world.  Places where the incarnation still seems like it has a real chance of occurring in the human soul, even in this busy, high tech era known as 2011.)

Now, in the middle of the night as I write this, I realize that I may not have an easy time of finding silence each day during Advent.  Plenty of Christmas carols in the air, some of which I like a good deal.  (A friend just sent our family a beautiful CD of Christmas carols performed by a girls choir.  We'll be playing that many times in the coming weeks and finding food for our souls in the playing.  Thanks, Jeanne!)  Still -- if I want to find moments of quiet during Advent, I'm going to have to kill the remote and turn off the car radio more often and stop myself from blathering on, too.

I'm going to have to make silence, in other words.  Valuing silence at different points during the day is helpful (perhaps essential) if I hope to make space in my heart for Christ's love, Christ's mercy, Christ's grace.  And maybe cultivating an inner spirit of quiet is essential if I hope to attain the equilibrium to share a bit of that love with others too -- since even in the quiet of the manger, the doorway was left open for shepherds, travelers from afar, and even (let's face it) curious livestock.  I have to imagine that Mary and Joseph savored the quiet -- occasionally broken by the Christ child's cries, for sure -- before they let those strangers in, before they pulled back the blanket a bit to let the visitors see the innocent face of love.

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