All Is Calm, All Is Bright?
Monika Bies, O.C.D.
Recently during our Community vacation time we watched the movie “Joyeux Noël.” Its story is based on the real-life Christmas truce of 1914 during which soldiers of both the German and English sides ceased hostilities unofficially to celebrate the Holy Day together. The armistice began when the German troops started to decorate their trenches with makeshift Christmas trees and to sing several Christmas carols, especially “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” (Silent night). In response to the German Celebrations the British soldiers in their trenches began singing English Christmas carols. Soon the singing turned to shouts of Christmas cheer across the lines, eventually causing the troops to cross into the “No Man’s Land,” where both sides (German and British soldiers) gathered together to pray and to celebrate.
Peace Will Return Again
The narrated accounts that are left behind about this historical incident are very touching, and have two threads in common: The obvious self-explanatory gratitude about the truce, and the hope against hope that the war will be over at some point so that peace will return again. Both become very clear in a letter that Pvt. Farnden of the Rifle Brigade wrote to his parents at Leyton: “On Christmas Day we were out of the trenches along with the Germans, some of whom had a song and dance, while two of our platoons had a game of football. A number of our fellows have got addresses from the Germans and are going to try and meet one another after the war.”
(Essex County Chronicle on Friday 15th of January 1915)
Here is a striking example of the kind of transformation that Christmas can inspire. May we live out a heightened awareness that even our small truces in our individual and communal lives, in whatever we are facing, are a great blessing. If we can not experience the peace of Christmas this time around, we may receive the grace not to give up hope that someday it will be Christmas time again!
As the theologian and storyteller John Shea wrote in an article entitled “Have a defiant Christmas”, “Will we wait till there is all light, ... until there is only love in order to celebrate? Or can we defy that and can we celebrate in the midst of darkness and barrenness...?”
Yes, indeed: All is calm, all is bright!
Merry Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten!
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