I live in a noisy house. We have tried teaching our children about volume control (we use a scale to help our oldest; e.g. “You’re at a 10. I need you at a 6.”). We have worked on the concept of taking turns while speaking. We have tried yoga breathing (which more often sounds like hyperventilating that calming breaths). And we use a lot of “time out.” As a parent, most of the time I am used to the volume of our house. But occasionally I spend time with families who have much more quiet homes, and the experience reminds me of how loud my house really is.
We are currently living in a culture of loud. Every day I receive emails from some online store who promises that today’s sale is even better than yesterday’s. When I try to work in public places on my laptop, either music or TVs are blaring loudly. Our current political discourse feels more like a shouting match than a quiet discussion of issues. And that does not even include the noise of Christmas preparation. Our lives are very loud when we stop to listen.
I think that is why I love Advent so much. It is the one church season that is almost always the total opposite of our secular season. In a time when the secular world is getting louder and louder, the church invites us to be more and more quiet. Our liturgies get simplified. Our educational offerings focus more on quiet reflection than dynamic presentations or lively conversations. Our calendar invites us to slow down. We do all this not to be contrary, but because our church wants to give us space to ponder and savor the coming miracle of the Christ Child.
This morning I used on online version of Morning Prayer that I don’t usually use. The nice thing about the website (or app if you use it on your phone), is the lessons are incorporated into the page so you do not have to find them separately. Also incorporated are some hymns and canticles. Today, the hymn was “Breathe on me Breath of God.” I remember that old hymn from my childhood and it was just what I needed to help me stay engaged in the quiet of Advent. My prayer for each of you today is not only that you feel God’s breath on you, filling you with life anew, but also that you breathe in God, allowing God to work through you so that God’s light might shine through you with renewed vigor. Perhaps simply by breathing in God and allowing God to breathe on you, you might find some small way to combat the loudness of life today.