Waiting and Silence
Maybe I am just getting old, or maybe it’s just the extreme busyness of our family schedule, or maybe it’s being a widow, but I find myself craving silence. On one of my Christmas CD’s there is a song by Amy Grant that I play frequently because I so identify with it. The chorus goes like this:
“I need a silent night, a holy night. To hear an angel voice, through the chaos and the noise. I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here, to end this crazy day with a silent night.”
The days leading up to Thanksgiving, knowing that the beginning of Advent was just days after that, I began making preparations for a different Advent season this year. I think it’s been ages and ages since Advent really and truly meant being in a period of hush, the silence of waiting with bated breath for the big exhale of glory in Christ’s birth. Like most Americans (dare I say Westerners), Advent has been about decorating for Christmas, getting everyone the perfect gift even if it means the hassle of running around to five stores to find the one thing that a child really, really, wants only to find that you are not going to be able to find it in the stores or on-line and you have to substitute something else. Which leads to comments on Christmas morning like “but I wanted ______________. How come you didn’t get me it?” And then you explain that it was so popular that it sold out everywhere really quickly. The child is disappointed and you feel devastated that your gift was rejected and that your child hasn’t learned to be grateful because you have always given him everything he’s asked for in life.
This year, out of a desperate need to have things simpler, I chose a group gift for the children, one that will continue to give to all of us once Christmas is long past. They know about it because it’s something I had to do ahead of time. It’s not what they wanted. They never asked for it, but I know that they will love it. It is a gift I can enjoy with them. I added a 15′ x 25′ slab of concrete to our backyard where we can enjoy playing hoops together. The goal I picked is portable so that when the kids are grown and gone, it can be moved out-of-the-way to make an entertaining space. The expense of Christmas wasn’t the real issue for me. It was the grasping for things that don’t last. It’s the reports on the news of crazy people fighting over things in stores on Black Friday. It’s the constant chorus of “I want, I want, I want…” in a culture of abundance. There is nothing we really lack in our culture except perhaps to be silent for a time, to take a break and set aside time to just “be,” whether it is with the Lord or with our families and our neighbors. The first week of Advent focuses on the Hope of Christ’s resurrection.
I have struggled these past months with the darkness that threatens to overwhelm me but doesn’t quite as I am able to push it back to see the light in my life. I ask myself and you this question: Can we push away the darkness of addiction to things, to electronic media, to consumerism, the unforgiveness for past hurts, and having to know through reason, to embrace the waiting and the silence before Christ’s joyous birth?
~ The Reluctant Widow