Lord, teach me the silence of love,
the silence of wisdom,
the silence of humility,
the silence of faith,
the silence that speaks without words.
O Saviour, teach me to silence my heart
that I may listen to the gentle movement
of the Holy Spirit within me,
and sense the depths which are God,
today and always.
(Frankfurt, sixteen century)
As Christmas is approaching it may be hard to find moments of stillness amongst the busyness of our preparations. Yet let us try to give ourselves the luxury of short pauses and practice the awareness that God is in our midst. We can do that while doing ordinary tasks like cooking, washing dishes, buying Christmas presents, or spending time with our family, by simply bringing to our attention the notion that God’s gaze is on us as we go about our daily activities. In this way every moment becomes sacred. This awareness will create attentiveness in us that in turn carves the interior way in our souls and makes us ready for the most sacred night of all, Christmas Eve.
Advent is a time of waiting on the promises of light in the midst of the night; a time where promises of a new dawn, while covered in a deep winter dream, or even in snow, slowly start to emerge in quiet whispers, as if the womb of the earth wants to tell us never to give in.
Take time to slow down. Listen to those quiet whispers. Even soul has its seasons. When we look inside ourselves we may recognise in which season is our soul at present. Listen to the promises that are being whispered inside your own being. The soft voice of God speaks within us each, though we have to learn to trust it. The season of our soul does not need to correspond to the seasons of the year. If your soul is in spring, summer or autumn at this time, let these other seasons speak to you, as God is present in each of them. Yet if your soul is in the season of winter; a season of resting, recuperating, restoring, allow yourself less activity, as much as your circumstances permit, and try to bask in the presence of God’s love. Finding moments of stillness is hardly ever going to be without a challenge or distractions but it is nonetheless worth trying to integrate them in our daily lives. Going for a walk is a great way of doing that as nature can nurture inner silence. However, let us be mindful that for some people Christmas is not going to be a happy season, theirs will be a different kind of silence. If you know of someone who might be struggling at this time, may your presence be like a healing balm to them.
In Advent we remember that God often comes to us gently, in silence. Jesus came to this world through the silence of the womb and Mary was the first one who embraced His reality within herself. That was her advent. Now in this Advent, let us be the womb for Him, in which the awareness of God will grow within us.
Dr Iva Beranek is the Ministry Facilitator for the CMH: Ireland