Advent calls me hither.
Could it be that when I go mute, I see and hear more clearly? Could it be that on a cold dreary Sunday afternoon with mug in hand, as I trim the tree alone whilst the rest of the clan naps, I might see, hear, and feel the whisper of Mary’s treasured ponderings of her Immaculate Heart? I may catch a whiff of hay, animal fur, and the cherubic powdered skin of the Christ child.
May I gain a sense of Nativity? “Native,” meaning origin of birth. Isn’t the birth of Christ, the origin, the beginning of all things holy, all things that matter? He is the author and finisher of my faith, as Hebrews 12:2 says.
Then there is the word matter. Webster’s Seventh Collegiate Dictionary, ©1961-1966 defines it as the substance of which a physical object is composed, or a substance that constitutes the observable universe and together with energy forms the basis of objective phenomena.
Since we’re on the subject of sensory matters, that which we see, feel, hear, touch and taste, let us explore the idea of the sharpening of these senses. Silence speaks louder than anything we can say, sometimes. Silence also enables us to get in touch with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, who we don’t sense with the usual five, but we know He’s more real than anything. We know this by listening with the heart. I offer, as many others before me, that a great way to do this is by cultivating silence. These gifts we can give and receive all year: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
I have a book being published soon. Paul’s Prayers is a memoir about our oldest son who has autism. I tell the story about the unique ways autism has influenced my son and our family. Autism is a vast and vague disorder that affects the way stimuli and information is received in the person who struggles with it. It will be published under the “Good Books” imprint of Skyhorse Publishing in March 2018 — just one month shy of autism awareness month, which is April. It will include pictures! There is one family picture framing all nine of us, Rob, Susan, Paul, Scott, Mark, Danika, Katie, Bethany, and our dog, Shep. I requested that the caption read, “The Family that Prays Together, Stays Together.”
My daughter Bethany, 17, remarked, “Mom, that’s so basic.”
I retorted, “We could use a little more basic, don’t ya think?”
As social and extroverted as I tend to be—I’m deliberately turning it off, the noise and clamor of culture, this Advent.
I’m trying to stoop down to the toddler lever and become more childlike, more trusting. I’m seeking solace within the Nativity—the Holy Family—the Holy Spirit.
Because it’s when I shut my mouth, and seek asylum under the palpable blanket of silence, that maybe, just maybe, I’ll hear.
A Wise Man Once Said Nothing, read an E-sign I found on Pinterest. It featured a pencil sketched simple scene of a man facing the horizon. His back to the beholder, he sat cross legged on some sort of peak — a vantage where he was alone with nature, his thoughts, eye sight, hearing, and his God. The source read, “Anonymous,” the author not wanting to be known.
Sometimes drama is over the top theatrical on social media because of politics or gossip brewing from rumors and incidents in our small towns. I’m tempted to post the above sign as my status on Facebook. It seems like everyone has something to say, and my sanctimonious nudging on a view of silence, is a bit ironic. If I post, then I’m not being silent, am I? The humble action is to be the wise woman and not post anything. Just extricate myself from the pot of boiling soup. I don’t want to get cooked.
I’m also reminded of Jesus’ Passion prefigured in Isaiah in chapter 53: 7: He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.
So I’ll try to emulate Jesus and Mary. I’ll approach social situations with the prayer, “Lord, set a guard over my mouth and keep a watch over my lips.” Then I’ll add the sign of the cross.
Another way of saying this is what my husband often refers to as “Going silent and deep.”
Amidst the jolly merrymaking, the hectic hubbub, and the 25 days of Christmas television, I’ll retreat to the stable in my imagination, in the quiet of my heart, Mary’s Immaculate Heart and her infant son’s Sacred Heart.
To you my friends, I wish you a blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas.
Copyright 2017 Susan Anderson