I woke up to the sound of sirens. It happens often; we live on a hill, and the sounds of sirens often echo in the valley below. It seems to happen regularly in the wee hours of the morning; and I start the day with a prayer as I wonder who might be hurting, who might be frightened, for the paramedics who rush in to help.
Sometimes I drift off, but usually I am half awake until the radio alarm jars my half-dreaming, and mercifully my hubby reaches to turn it off. I'm not quite ready for the days news and love to nestle in and enjoy the quiet.
Most of our lives are not quiet. The TV blares, and sounds of cell phones, and chatter and traffic and machines of all descriptions color our days.
And I think about that much loved Christmas Carol, Silent Night, and wonder - was it really so quiet? If you listen in your head, you can hear the donkey's braying and the sheep bleating, and if your senses are really tuned, the barnyard smells drift in. Perhaps a rooster crows in the distance. The sound of large groups of people gathering, taxes to be paid and a bustling unsettled community there to do Caesar Augustus' bidding.
And then you hear it, the mother's gasps of pain, the baby's cry. A Saviour is born. It is romantic to us, looking back from the twenty-first century, etched on ornaments, painted on cards, sold in a million varieties, the nativity how ever you want it!
But I think it was far from romantic that night. It was sweat and tears and noise and smells, and in the middle of all of it... unspeakable joy. So full of joy that the heavens opened and angels sang! Hardly silent, I think!!
So where is the silence? In this waiting for Christmas, this beginning of Advent Season, I long, more than ever for the stillness of my heart. To stop, to listen, to rest. I was reading a devotional this morning by Rob Descotes from Psalm 46:10, which says "Be still... and know that I am God." I've been thinking about that all day... Descotes suggests that these words were given as a command in the midst of chaos, of war... and God was reminding them that He was in control...
And I thought... how appropriate. In the middle of the chaos of the First Christmas there was a far greater plan... and in my life, in all of life, there is a bigger plan. God says to me... Be still...there is holy silence in the midst of all the noise and distractions.
So, "Silent Night"... as we enter into this which can be the busiest of seasons, full of noise and hustle and expectations and spending, and overindulging... I just want to stop. To savor the silence, to be grateful for all the gifts life brings, to be thankful for a God who sends a little baby to be human, just like us, so that we can be known and loved by a God who cares. I quiet my heart... and listen.