In the wee hours of the morning, I sit in the light of the Christmas tree. There are no presents underneath. My manger scene is undisturbed. The stockings are empty. I could have slept for hours more, yet somehow my body is programed that on this morning I should be up. The dog’s snoring is the only noise on this silent night. Holy night.
After time here celebrating early, my children are scattered again. Last week the noise was more what I am accustomed to on Christmas morning. Wrapping paper tearing and laughter…all four of them under the same roof for a few days. My best present ever. But now, it is quiet again, and I sit, wondering how many others are sitting in undisturbed places. Silent places. Holy places.
The manger is symmetrical with its shepherds and kings. Always placed just so, though they were never there at the same time. It just looks better to have them all there together even if it is not accurate. They surround the baby with Mary and Joseph looking on in wonder. Usually with the activity of Christmas morning, we have a few sheep knocked over or a king displaced. After all, scene sits right in the middle of things on the coffee table, positioned there intentionally for years so my young ones could touch and feel the story. There it remains, undisturbed in the silence, in the holiness of the morning.
For many, underneath the joyous holiday noise, there is silence. The kind of quiet that is formed in a vacuum. There is a hole at the table…if there is even a table set at all. The grief of loss stings in the holiday season. It can be overwhelming in its stillness. On the surface, everything is symmetrical and in order. Below the surface the undisturbed manger is a reminder of the deafening quiet of grief…of life turned upside down for one reason or another. Pain is the only gift under the tree. Hearts broken by the messiness of life, sit with tears falling as they pray to the baby on this silent night. Holy night.
Pain like this is sacred because when silence is shared, it becomes a place of worship. Tears are liquid prayers. There are no words needed in the quiet places of the heart. The undisturbed places remain so because to disrupt them is to remember and to feel the pain of loss and grief. Yet, when they break forth in tears, the silence transforms into peace…a deep abiding sense of communion with the baby who was born to suffer our pain. Silent night. Holy night.
Outside my window, it is Christmas morning. The sky is pink and the sun is quietly slipping over the mountains to start the day. After a long silence, this holy night is now the morning of our salvation. The dawn of hope…and with it the realization that the silence of undisturbed, lonely, grievous and painful places are themselves holy. Silent nights lead to hope-filled mornings, and for that I am ever grateful to the baby who came to break the silence with his holy tears. Merry Christmas.