One late November afternoon, I am drawn out into the bending light. Away from the clamour of the house and its flurry of concerns, past the withered garden and scratching chickens, down a set of mossy stone steps, and toward the hollow where our patch of woods stands by the river. In the distance, trucks roar over the narrow bridge, but as I walk away from the crossroads, the rumbling recedes.
Soon, all I can hear is the shuffle of damp leaves underfoot, where the horse chestnuts gleam out from their spiny pods and wild apples soften into the earth. Stooping under a branch of dangling mountain ash berries, I enter the path that descends to the river. There is a Linden tree in the heart of this tiny forest, and it is under these leafless limbs that I stop.
It is perhaps the first time all day I have stopped moving. The river is glass this afternoon. There is not so much as a rustle or creak in the trees above. For a moment, all is perfectly still. Exquisitely silent. The only thing I hear is the heaving air in my lungs. Gradually, my breathing slows, and the jangling noise of my own mind begins to fade.
What does it mean to keep silence? The line of this old Advent hymn rises like the vapour of breath on a cold day, a whisper against the pulsing sound wave of the festive season. Everywhere I go, the Christmas soundtrack is on repeat already. Celebration is good. But the jingle can become overwhelming. I need quiet. . .
I’m quietly thrilled to announce my new Advent devotional! A Quiet Christmas: Keeping Silence with the Word is your invitation to experience the awe and intimacy of the Incarnation.
This four-week journey is a reflection on the hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” as well as a meditative guide through the Scriptures that reveal the mystery of God’s presence with us in Christ. Each week, a new essay will explore an aspect of our need for sacred silence, while the daily guide will lead you step-by-step in a process of listening to Scripture and keeping a loving silence with the Word Himself.
If you’re longing for some peace in your busy season, this is for you.
If you are having a quiet Christmas this year, and you’re not sure how to the fill the silence, this is for you, too.
Do you want to find out who I met in the silence of the woods? Download your own copy of A Quiet Christmas in the shop and find out!
I pray this guide will lead you closer to Jesus and the peace he offers. Be blessed to keep a loving silence with the Word this year.