It’s been one of those for me. I tried to fill it with a few phone calls and text messages to friends while waiting in my car for my kids to emerge from their youth group meeting. No one answered. All was silent, and the hush filled my heart until I could no longer suppress my reality. The pain inside of me was going to find its voice, and the silence offered it a stage for release.
Rather than trying to hold the silence at bay, I gave in to it and allowed it to hold me. Cradle me. Collect all the tears that had been welling up within me. In those moments of surrender, the Father allowed me to move out of my silent night so that I might enter into another one—the holy quiet belonging to Bethlehem some 2000 years ago.
Mary’s labored breathing followed by the push and pressure of Emmanuel’s eagerness to make his entrance. Joseph’s soft responses to his beloved. Stabled animals shuffling in the hay. Neighs and brays; snorts and sneezes. Whispers of the wind stirring as symphony. A baby crying. The boisterous interruption of a heavenly choir.
And therein, my momentary pain was overshadowed by lasting remembrance.
Perhaps this is the beauty of a silent night … when sorrow bumps up next to Salvation. When pain nestles closely to Promise. When that which is holding us so tightly releases its grip to the mighty Hold of heaven—tiny fingers wrapped around human hurt, reminding us that all has not been lost in the silent night. Instead, all has been gained there, in that place of sacred collision.
It doesn’t seem reasonable, this holding of peace while simultaneously holding pain. But it feels right. Even in the ache, I’m willing to take hold of it, make sense of it, because the thread that ties me to the eternal is stronger than the frayed threads that tie me to the temporal. I am made for heaven, and a silent night tethers me to home.
Maybe today you’re wrapped up in a heart-hurt. Life has surprised you with pain, an unexpected grief that threatens to steal your peace. You have nowhere to place it, no friend to shoulder the load. The silence is deafening, and your escape uncertain.
Me too. Greater yet, God too! God is with us as we make our pilgrimages to Bethlehem this year, as we wrestle with our pain and strive to make peace out of chaos.
Emmanuel is in the manger. Emmanuel is in our silent nights. Emmanuel … holding our hearts. Healing our hurts. Keeping us safe. Walking us home.
How I love the gift of Jesus; how I need this blessed grace! On this silent night, I bend the knee and bow the heart to honor the King’s advent in my life. ‘Tis a sweet mercy and a blessed trust to have my silence interrupted by the great and glad declarations of heaven. As always …
Peace for the journey,
My Silent Night
Oh holy, quiet Bethlehem;
Tonight I linger here.
Beneath your stars, within your walls,
Your truth resounding clear.
The Baby cries his advent;
The momma cries relief.
The daddy cries his tears of joy;
The heavens cry belief.
How lovely is this moment;
That lingers then and now.
Both quiet and both willing,
For peace to take a bow.
To enter in and change me;
To soften pain with praise.
To dry my tears with silence,
To cause my hope to raise.
Oh silent night! Oh holy night!
You’ve never sung so strong.
So clear, so true, so tenderly,
Relieving all that’s wrong.
You are where I’ll linger;
You are where I’ll sing.
For unto to me a child is born,
Onto him I’ll cling.
(written by F. Elaine Olsen.12-01-13.allrightsreserved)