Coping

From Chaos to Peacefulness

November 27, 2016

Advent begins today:

A priest shared this idea and it resonates with me today: On that first Christmas, God came to those who were still, who were waiting, who were open. The angels did not bring a message to the Pharisees. God did not speak to the census workers or busy innkeepers. Angels came to shepherds in the quiet fields of night. Jesus was born in a quiet stable. A silent night can be a holy night.

During the first “Christmas” season, most people were extremely busy and distracted. Caesar Augustus demanded that all people in the Roman world return to their home towns to register for a census. Travel by caravan through rugged terrain did not end with resorts or vacation. Inns were filled to the brim, family homes were packed. Mary and Joseph were just one couple out of thousands of travelers.

It was also a time of turmoil and upheaval. Jesus was born into an aggressive, violent world. His birth caused Herod to order the brutal murder of boys two years and under. Anger, insecurity, and tyranny resulted in the death of innocent babes, and great mourning for the mothers. Even before the birth of Christ, violence was a real danger against his pregnant mother. If she appeared with child before marriage, the custom of stoning would be her punishment.

Despite the chaos, exhaustion, and danger there was time to be still, be silent. I marvel how the little family just did what they had to do, they pushed through. There was danger and busyness and struggle but also a deep peace for the little family.

Today, society can seem chaotic and stressful. Perhaps society, the one I no longer belong to due to illness, is fearful of silence and focus. There is comfort in being so busy that one does not have to contemplate, reflect, or be alone with thoughts. One is easily swept into the rat race, the competition, and even the fears created by political change. Perhaps identity is falsely based in what we do and how we are seen? The external circumstances are often allowed to destroy peace.

I used to be a very busy person; not with activities I enjoyed, but ones I signed up for so that I felt important and involved. The activities and volunteer work served a purpose, but also led to my demise. At first my illness caused days in bed and then months. Soon years passed. Years of stillness and quiet. The isolation of serious illness fee can create feelings of despair. The aloneness becomes a heavy blanket that is suffocating. Making peace with the quiet and finding my true identity were gifts, not easily unwrapped.

Now that I am recovering (well aware I am one of the few emerging from this sort of condition) I still maintain a quiet, peaceful life. Any attempt at rushing back to my old ways is abruptly met with a flare, anxiety, and sleepless nights. I know the importance of silence and peace and NOT being too busy. I choose peace daily.

A priest shared this idea and it resonates with me today: On that first Christmas, God came to those who were still, who were waiting, who were open. The angels did not bring a message to the Pharisees. God did not speak to the census workers or busy innkeepers. Angels came to shepherds in the quiet fields of night. Jesus was born in a quiet stable. A silent night can be a holy night.

If you are healthy, be grateful and enjoy the season without forgetting its purpose. If you are ill and too weak to attend Christmas supper or events, may the peace of Christ fill you and protect you from despair. May you “get through” the next few weeks without dwelling on what you are missing. Don’t mourn the parties, games, and splashy events you cannot attend. Focus on what will bring calm and healing; Jesus came to be your saviour and comforter. He is called the Prince of Peace after all.

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