Several weeks ago a dear friend invited me to participate in an evening of silence. I figured I would need such a night in the midst of Christmas season busy-ness. It would be good to take a break and still.
Last night was that night. On the heels of a weekend in which I hid tears from my children and held them tight and locked eyes with Michael and squeezed his hand more than normal. On the heels of looking straight into the full loveliness of this life as much as I possibly could bear in light of all that’s happened.
All that happens each day that seeks to convince us that this life is not worth embracing.
I feel the gray following me around the house. I feel the dread sorrow when I wake from sleep, the waking to what feels like the nightmare, as my dear friend said. I carry the ache around with me for the mothers and fathers, grandparents and brothers and sisters.
I read words of courageous, wise and thoughtful ones, and I think of those who’ve seen what they saw. I think of those who die in the places we expect and in those we don’t each day. I feel helpless. I pray.
I walk with a friend. Snuggle with my sick girl on the couch while we watch Christmas movies. Decorate Gaga’s tree. Read innocent stories to my babies. Laugh with my husband. Sit in the light of a Christmas tree at a downtown hotel with a friend, just like we do every year.
I sing songs of praise in church, and I wipe the tears, and Christmas carols feel different.
Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
And my heart feels broken while it still beats and while my body still goes through the movements.
I cannot imagine. I cannot imagine.
Each one of us holds a unique voice, and I’m sure many of us will use them to advocate, and yes, we must. But too, I’ve needed to still my voice, slow to reflect, to mourn — to proclaim love in the small gestures of this everyday life.
For this is the life I’ve been given, that you’ve been given, and we hold it in our very hands.
Each night, we continue lighting candles and celebrating the Light who has come into this world, that came for tragedy and pain, darkness and sorrow, and it feels like a horribly incongruous celebration. Yet we are agreeing with eyes that do not yet see the fullness of the One who is and will always be the hope of this world. The only one.
Each night, we light candles, and it is a vigil, too. Remembering round-faced children the world over and speaking peace, peace, peace. Life, life, life.
We will not forget your light.
When I arrive at the studio last night, in a mixed industrial area of the city, I gather blankets and arrange pillows and choose a spot next to my friend. It’s been a busier day than normal, and I am feeling the weariness of the emotional backlog without space to still.
I sit and stretch and am awakened to the ache in my hips, my neck, my shoulder, and it’s insignificant, really, but it reminds me that silence recognizes pain.
The vast, hollow aches, the ones that touch every fiber, the ones we feel when others simply cannot.
I am lying under blankets, head on a pillow. I drift in and out of movement and sleep. I open my eyes and see the light that glows overhead, the round orange gold framed in steel cage. I close my eyes to the dark under lids, and the light keeps right on with its glowing.
I still my thoughts and try to listen, and I do not hear major proclamations. Only feel the still.
I think about collective moments of silence — those that recognize the unfathomable and that which goes beyond the ability of words.
As I sit in this room of quiet others, I think about how silence unites us because sometimes there are no words, and we are recognizing that we just don’t know. We are sitting in the discomfort and the darkness with that small light glowing.
My friend who has gathered us this evening speaks a blessing about life that comes from dark. Life that springs forth from the womb, seeds that seem still under soil until they burst forth in spring’s light.
We can sit in the dark, knowing that life that comes from even the darkest places.
A woman plays keyboards in the corner of the room, and I feel the aching.
The music goes still, and I sit in the quiet again.
Through walls, the work of machines outside enters.
Inside all is still while across the street machines sound their boom, boom, boom, like gongs, remembering.