November 23, 2017
Time has flown over this first term, here we are on the cusp of Advent! Although the stores have had Christmas decorations out since early October, this is time when preparations begin in earnest. The calendar is filling up quickly with family gatherings, office parties and outings with friends. I sometimes wonder if people are looking forward with anticipation or dread. An extrovert’s dream could be an introvert’s nightmare.
I would classify myself as an extrovert, feeling energized from social interactions. Certainly that would be part of working with students, parents and staff that nourishes me. I seem to thrive on the noisiness and busyness that surround me. Over and over, though, I have encountered the idea that I need to embrace silence in order to hear to the voice of the divine. I recall one retreat years ago where the facilitator took the letters of silent and rearranged them anagram style into the word listen. Cute…maybe… but it seemed like an anathema to me. I have always worked in schools, had children and teenagers at home, life is busy…besides, am I not supposed to find God in other people? And where was I supposed to find this silence everyone spoke of?
Often I find that the things that I struggle against the most vehemently highlight areas I need to work on. As I continued on my spiritual journey, this recurrent theme battered my resolve, and slowly, grudgingly, I began to seek more times of quiet. Honestly, I had to take the silence in small doses or risk going into communal withdrawal! Lo and behold, as much as I still gathered energy from being social, these times of quiet and reflection allowed me to recharge in other areas that I had not even realized needed replenishment. I am not sure if that counts as divine presence, but certainly the experiences have given me a sense of peace and renewed purpose. Balance, then, rather than either extreme worked for me.
The pace of life hasn’t gotten any slower in the intervening years and I am very prone to fall back into my habit of frantic activity. The advent of winter, when the first few snowfalls muffle the city sounds helps me to get back on track. Walking the dogs on these crisp, silent nights reminds me that I need to find ways to step away from the noise around me, even for a bit. In my attempts to find some semblance of equilibrium, I see in this darkening season and these symbolic flakes a prompting to make time for stillness, for balance and for prayer. Although this time leading up to Christmas can bring its own extra busyness and get social events, may this Advent season provide you and your family with some Silent Nights, too. We can all use a little quiet space to reflect on our own journeys and find balance and renewal in whatever these moments of stillness bring.
Have a blessed Advent!