Saturday, December 16, 2006

Still Small Night

I saw The Nativity Story recently.

A pleasant enough of a film, with some serious flaws, and some really fine things to recommend it as well.

One aspect of the film that I truly admired was the recurring theme of finding G-d in stillness.

A story from 1 Kings is recited several times in the film. In the story, Elijah is told to go to the mountain to meet up with G-d. Elijah experiences a great wind, an earthquake and a terrible fire, and G-d is not in any of those things.

Then there is a stillness, and G-d is in the stillness.

The movie plays on that theme by presenting G-d and the heavenlies in subtleness and quietude. No big roaring angel overpowering Mary; no majestic wrath telling Joseph to get his act together. Just a persistent holy presence available for those that would take the time to listen.

The idea doesn’t fully work in the movie (the multitude of heavenly hosts is reduced to a pleasant glow) – but I admire them for trying it.

This season has become the season of busyness, of running around, of doing many doings.

It is a season concerned with how garish we can decorate our houses, how sugared up we can get our kids, how stuffed we can fill our rooms with stuff.

It is about jingle jangle bells, clanging carols and honking car horns.

I’m thinking that maybe the best way to find the meaning for the season is not in shouting “Silent Night” in the hopes of drowning out “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”

Maybe it is in hushing, and listening.

And being still.

Just my thoughts,



Anonymous said...

Is it all that bad. You make the season sound horrible. In that busyiness is a lot of humanity. People talking to and getting to know strangers. People giving food, clothing, supplies and yes toys anonymously to families they don't even know. People smiling and hugging. People caring and doing a little extra for anyone they meet. The busyiness isn't just about stuff and I don't think anyone really wants to sugar up their kids. I guess I see the busyiness, carols and ringing bells a little different. I think you could definetly find God, if you wish to, in the hustle and bustle.

Gaffney said...

I agree that you’ve come up with a list of pretty wonderful things.

I also believe that all of those things would be better if we weren’t rushing them.

I believe that to get to know a stranger (or even a friend) is more than a buzz by; that getting to know someone means stopping and listening.

I think that a hug that is just on its way to another hug is less fulfilling than a hug focused on the person, that stops to enjoy the moment and the friendship that the hug represents.

I think wanting to do a little extra for everyone you meet but not having the time isn’t really as virtuous as all that.

And I know a whole lot of people that want to spoil their children, and who over-stimulate the wee ones in the name of giving.

And I really, really disagree that people can only maintain charity through busyness.

Busyness in itself is not a virtue; and the many joys and virtues of this season happen, in my opinion despite busyness, rather than as a result of it.


Anonymous said...

I can relate to that longing for quiet. It is one of His greatest gifts to us, when we choose to take the time for it..and then, if we do take the time to be quiet and listen to Him, we can enter into the busyness, which will always be there, and have His quiet in our hearts to be able to somehow bring it to others.

Gaffney said...

Thank you, Amy. Very nicely said.