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Day 15 of 28: Silent Night

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 HANNAH

I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.

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Silent Night

In 1816, German Catholic priest Josef Mohr introduced his congregation to a new hymn he’d written. It was Christmas mass. They sang out from their pews the tune he’d penned in the weeks prior. It’s a song he was inspired to write as he went for a walk one evening and stopped to observe his small Austrian town blanketed in snow. 

It’s a tune that, over the years, has come to mark the holiday season with the picture it paints:

Silent night, holy night, 

all is calm, all is bright,

Round yon virgin mother and child. 

Holy infant, so tender and mild, 

sleep in heavenly peace, 

sleep in heavenly peace.

Though these words were penned hundreds of years after the birth of Jesus, something about them conjures an image in our brains of what that night must have been like. It’s an idea further imprinted on us by silent nativity scenes and Christmas plays that end with a serene setting– Mary cradling her newborn baby, Joseph doting on the pair, the cows and sheep adoring the babe from a distance, and the shepherds watching on. An idyllic night of quiet.

But the Scriptures never say it was a silent night. It likely wasn’t. Any woman who has ever given birth can attest that it likely wasn’t a quiet night.

Childbirth isn’t a silent process.

Newborn babies aren’t silent.

Animals aren’t known for their quiet qualities.

And yet I think we all marvel at the moments within our holiday seasons where everything seems to go still…

When our little worlds feel at peace. 

When the kids are in bed. 

When you notice the lights across a cityscape as you’re driving home. When that first snowfall blankets the scenery with a stillness that feels unattainable in the hustle of daily life.

Sometimes the moment only lasts for 5 minutes, but we breathe it in, and it’s almost like that brief stint of quiet refuels us, brings us back to center, and reminds us to be here now. 

We’ve become so accustomed to noise that we barely notice it’s in everything. Even on our “silent nights,” we turn on sound machines so that manufactured noise can lull us to sleep. And yet there is so much power in stillness and powering down to be quiet with ourselves.

Teresa of Avila writes, “Settle yourself in solitude and you will come upon Him in yourself.”

Chances are, we won’t have many of these moments of solitude over the next few weeks, but I urge you to fight to cancel the noise when you can this season. I know this isn’t an easy task, but I’ve found in my own life that solitude replenishes my weary spirit; it fulfills me in a way the noise never can.

As we read through Scripture, we witness the babe in the feeding trough grow up and start his public ministry at 30. We watch him make disciples. We watch him heal and teach, flipping the Kingdom of God on its head. In a very public ministry, we watch him often retreat to get away with God. Into the silence. Into the solitude. Into the quiet. If you’ve never noticed it, look closely as you read the Gospels next time. The number of times Jesus gets away from the noise is astounding. It was a legitimate practice of silence and solitude in his life. 

Now- it rarely goes according to plan, but he still fights for it. He still climbs literal mountains to try and make a rhythm of solitude.

If Jesus needed to create space in his days for solitude, how much more do you and I need it? 

Within our culture, we’ve become conditioned to believe that silence is not needed. We need more noise to fill our days because who are we without the noise? Who are we when we pause everything and sit with ourselves? We’re conditioned not to want to know what happens when the screens shut off and the noise stops.

But friend, what if that’s the good stuff? What if that’s the strength we’ve been longing for? What if we miss out on entering into the most whole version of ourselves because we resist the chance to get silent, get quiet, and get away with God?

I could probably take this message in a dozen more directions and debate on doing so, but the quiet voice that lives within me challenged me to stop it here. To not get overly practical and not give you ten ways to turn down the noise.

You already know how to turn down the noise in your life. You already know you need it. You may hear from God as you quiet your soul to listen. You may not. But there is a whole different spiritual life you will miss out on if you don’t fight to turn down the noise and steal away with God.

Silent nights don’t happen by accident. We have to forge them. We have to create them in the deep of our souls. Even if the silent nights only last five minutes before the noise appears again, I know they have the power to change absolutely everything about our inner lives.

Reading

Mark 1:35, Psalm 37:7, Luke 6:12-13

Steal This Prayer

Dear God, help me forge a silent night within my soul. I’m tired of the noise. I’m tired of constantly needing to be “on” and producing. I need a breather- a break in the wilderness- just as Jesus practiced when he walked this earth. I know you can show me the areas of my life where I’ve let too much noise in. Please help me to step back and step into your presence fully through the power of silence and solitude.



I Love Hearing from You!

In moving my blog to a newer platform, I sadly had to let go of the thousands of comments and conversations that came from readers over the last 10+ years. This grieves me deeply but I know there will new conversations, fresh words of wisdom, and opportunities to create close community once again. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ll be reading + replying on a regular basis.

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!

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