By Sarah Damm
As a mom, I know I am instrumental in making the magic of Christmas come alive in our home. What an honor! The joy on my kids’ faces, the anticipation in their hearts—that is my reward, even if it comes with some long days and busy nights. But I don’t want to arrive at Christmas Day in as an exhausted heap, too tired to celebrate Love coming down to earth.
The very essence of this Advent season is to wait in joyful expectation for the Baby who is coming to restore my weary soul. And the longing for peace, quiet, and calm is as real as the baking, wrapping, and decorating. But how do I make room for silence and stillness when there is just so much to do? It is as if all of Heaven is holding its breath for the birth of Christ, and I am so busy with errands and checklists that the bright star above Bethlehem just might disappear before I have a chance to look up.
As much as Advent and Christmas are times to make sure my family makes memories and cherishes traditions, Jesus has an extraordinary gift for me, too—an invitation to slow down this Advent. Amid the hustle and bustle, am I going to pause long enough to receive it, unwrap it, and savor it?
In Scripture, the Lord invites us into silence and stillness, extending the invitation, over and over.
“By waiting and by calm, you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies” (Isaiah 30:15)
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
“The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still” (Exodus 14:14)
“For God alone, my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:5)
When we come to Him, wait for Him, be still with Him, He gives us the gift our weary souls need: He gives us Himself. In the silence and stillness, the Lord comes. This Advent, let us make room in the manger of our hearts for the Babe to be born.
Traditional carols echo the theme of silence and stillness pitch-perfectly.
“… The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing” (It Came Upon a Midnight Clear)
“Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright” (Silent Night)
“O come, divine Messiah! The world in silence waits the day” (O Come, Divine Messiah)
Here are four simple, inspiring ways to make room for quiet, peace, and prayer:
1) Schedule. Each day, ask yourself, “Where can I carve out some time to be still and rest in the joy that Jesus is coming? Is it first thing in the morning, after I drop off the kids at school, or during my lunch break?”
2). Reflect. Pray along with the daily readings in the Magnificat or on the USCCB website. The daily readings can lend structure to your prayer time, and God will use these to speak very personally with you. Sit with the words, ponder them, and journal their meaning.
3) Reconsider. Bring your to-do list with you to prayer, and ask the Lord for wisdom as you continue all of the other Christmas preparations. Jesus delights in our desire to make Christmas memorable for our families and friends. What unique and unexpected activities and traditions can you include this year? Invite the Lord into your decision.
4) Light. At the end of a long day, make a cup of tea and sit quietly in front of the Christmas tree. With all other lights off, it can be a simple but meaningful way on these dark nights to anticipate the birth of Christ, the Light of the World, basking in the glow of the tree.
How do you find silence and stillness in the midst of the hustle and bustle?