In Silence Comes Rejoicing

By Lynne Elwinger, O.C.D.

When asked what I liked best about Christmas, what came immediately to mind was the spirit of cheerful kindness that seems to pop up everywhere. Everyone seems friendlier and I always wonder what we could do to keep this atmosphere going all year round.

However, what really determines my material for reflection and meditation during any given season, whether of nature or liturgical, is almost always a quote of some sort that has taken hold of my imagination and refused to let go. This season is no different. The flavor given to my prayer for the Advent season and coming winter is a quote from Ivan Grangier. “Once you have gathered enough silence, silence gathers you.” I love this quote because it describes exactly what my own personal experience has been for many years.

Waiting For Someone

I have been musing on the realization that Advent is a quiet season and one of waiting for someone/something to be born. It comes as the earth herself (at least in our part of the world) is becoming much more silent and at rest. Even the night of Jesus’ birth, as the story is told, was a silent night. Then when Jesus was born, there were angels singing and a mood of jubilant rejoicing that spread like overflowing grace to all parts of the land. In our own everyday lives, we also can experience these rhythms of silence and rejoicing, as out of the silence comes cause for joy, regardless of what else may be going on around us.

Our silences don’t have to be long or the permanent lifestyle some may choose. In this noisy, chaotic world of ours, we are all hungry for some nourishing quiet time where we can recover our scattered selves back to center again. In contrast to the failing economy which is bringing anxiety and worry everywhere we look, this silence holds a wealth of gifts for us whose value never depreciates. There is no scarcity or lack in the divine economy of silence which, when entered into even briefly, has a feeling of presence about it that wraps itself around a person like a comforting embrace.

In time, when we are able to stay within the silence, everything shifts. The energy around us is different, and as a consequence, emotions, thoughts attitudes, and perspectives change in unpredictable and unexpected ways. When we accept the gentle invitation to step out of the way of this process, surprising things can happen. Emerging refreshed and renewed, we can find ourselves seeing the world around us differently. We may have uncovered new treasures, solutions to problems, new understandings. The way this happens always seems a bit mysterious to me but it definitely happens.

The Place Where One Meets God

Our willingness to be in the silence without an agenda prepares a space for the sacred, an opening that allows something new to be born in us. Hopefulness, joy and delight, similar to that which accompanies the birth of a child, can be ours in this situation also. Immersed in the grace of the moment, we rejoice and give thanks.

Although we may not hear angel choirs singing or see shepherds running to spread the news, in our hearts there is a celebration happening. We have encountered the Divine within, and as was probably the case with shepherds and all the other arrivals at the manger to see the baby Jesus, we are frequently speechless with awe.

A Change Within Ourselves

Eventually we may find words to share with others what our experience has been. But even if we cannot do it in words, there will be a change within ourselves that will be transmitted to those around us. Our rejoicing will help them to find their own rejoicing. Perhaps this is how we might keep that Christmas spirit going in every season. May your silent times this Advent season and in the coming year give you much cause for rejoicing, and may the angels sing in your hearts!


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