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Quietly, Quietly: An Advent Reflection

Today is bone cold, gray, and still, which seems appropriate for the beginning of Advent. As I was headed for a walk in the woods, I was listening to a haunting rendition of Longfellow’s “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day” by Beta Radio. It’s been one of those Christmas songs I’ve least connected with, for whatever reason. But Beta Radio’s melancholy twist resonated with me this morning, under the gray skies…

Then in despair I hung my head There is no peace on earth I said For hate is strong and marks the song Of “peace on earth, goodwill to men”

That’s the world we live in today, that’s the world Longfellow wrote his poem in during the Civil War, and that’s the world God’s people waited in at the time of Jesus’ birth. Waiting for what? Peace.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep God is not dead nor does He sleep The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, goodwill to men.

But how? Christ has come, but the world is wicked still. I cannot seem to see good under these gray skies. I cannot seem to find peace on this stone-cold earth.

Perhaps it is because I am not still. Perhaps it is because I do not listen closely enough. I suppose that’s the whole point of this season, this waiting, this sitting in silence, the seeing in the unexpected, the listening for His coming:

You could’ve come like a mighty storm with all the strength of a hurricane You could’ve come like a forest fire with the power of heaven in your flame                  But you came like a winter snow quiet and soft and slow Falling from the sky in the night to the earth below

Perhaps this is how he calls us to be. Perhaps this is how the kingdom comes, has always been coming, will come. In the stillness, the quietness, the steady faithfulness.

Suppose we did our work like the snow, quietly, quietly. leaving nothing out.

-Wendell Berry

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