Season of Stillness
by Catherine Doherty.
My Russian shrine stands peaceful and quiet. Its roof is covered with snow. The Virgin of Kiev is reflected in the vigil light that always burns before her face. It looks especially beautiful in the dark of the winter nights.
Squirrels and raccoons scamper around, leaving tracks on the snow, as does my doe who comes to drink at the river where the current is too swift to freeze. Once in a while, bear tracks are also seen on the snow!
In such an environment, December comes to greet me and leads me slowly and gently into Advent, to the Expected One—the Child in the cave—the Child who is God.
It isn’t difficult for me to imagine that snow and ice, trees and animals, share in my expectation. In December my island sings of the coming of the Prince of Peace.
The island is bare. And there is a stillness, a holy stillness, that makes very real to me the words of the Christmas antiphons, “When the night was still, your Almighty Word leapt down from heaven.”
My mind turns to that holy night that is always so close, though it happened almost 2,000 years ago. I cannot help meditating on this beautiful antiphon. My mind spins a cradle of silence into which the Word that leapt from heaven comes to rest.
Silence and speech, contemplation and action, these form the very heart of the Christian life. To receive the Word we must gather ourselves up, recollect ourselves.
The fire of the Holy Spirit is often expressed in many revolutionary ways which seem confusing to us. But if we are silent, if we recollect ourselves and prepare to hear the voice of the Word, then we will cease to be confused; we will be made ready for the revolution of love.
Yes, we must become cradles of silence, meditation and contemplation so that the Word may find our hearts ready to receive him—our souls and minds ready to hear his message of love. And, hearing it, may we arise and go forth and live it!
—Adapted from Welcome, Pilgrim, (1991), p. 92, Madonna House Publications, out of print.