Two days ago a woven box appeared on my table. It was a mystery, delivered by someone unknown. From it this small, round stone appeared. The stone came wrapped in red, for Christmas, and also for warmth; a small, warm stone. All through Advent I have come to prayer disposing myself to be still as a small, warm stone. I have prayed this for myself and with others. And so, this small mystery is a great gift, a symbol of longed for stillness, given with loving attentiveness by another who has felt this ground of the heart.
The stillness connects with a word that has been living in me since Advent began – hush. Hush, not as a verb but as a noun. Hush, kin to reverence and guest of awe. I stand on the edge of the mystery of Christmas and, still as a small, warm stone, I sense the hush.
Hush doesn’t require that sound cease. Tonight there will be choirs rustling into place, children whispering robustly, adults bending to listen or turning to greet. Hymn books will drop. Sound systems may misbehave. The wise ones may be late, or a shepherd may be shy.
In homes many are gathering for a meal. Oven doors are creaking open and cutlery is plinking and chairs are scraping in and out. Of course there are voices and there are memories, which can sometimes be very loud, and fears, which can chatter too. In some places silence will be a heavy thing.
But I hope there is in amongst this hush. As you enter a room as you turn a page or turn to your lover, as you give thanks again for the warmth of tree lights, as the plain day passes, I hope you fall into a moment still as a small, warm stone. I hope if you have all of this or none of it, a moment will open itself and beckon you in.
I hope that what you carry in a seemingly barren heart will leap in recognition, that you will say ‘yes’ to the annunciation just for you, and that you will see in yourself and in this lovely, labouring world, peace, its gestation over and over again complete, slipping from hidden places, warm and rushing and alive.
on the threshold of Christmas
Still, as soft warm stones,
we wait for the ‘Wordless Child’.