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December 22, 2014

For God alone my soul in silence waits. — Psalm 62.

This is such an arresting concept – the soul in silence; the soul waiting for God alone. The idea is counter-cultural, maybe even counter-intuitive.

This is a noisy season. Commercials seem louder and more feverish. Dire predictions accompany the daily news. The fate of the economy and countless jobs depend upon our willingness to pull out the cash or the plastic.

All around us the spiritual and the secular face-off like ancient adversaries in a timeless contest. Heaven and earth collide.

And in the middle of all this stands the patient Psalmist, calling us to step off the treadmill; to get out of the mall race and wait in silence. Doing this would be hard enough without the pressure of Christmas being a few days away. How can we wait when there is so much to do?

Still, a whispered voice, insistent with its demands intrudes. Stop and seek silence, or drop from exhaustion. You choose. But where and how to find this elusive peace? We are not monks. Our minds have not been trained for this. Those who have children know they do not surrender to such needs.

We have but one hope. Pray for snow. Not a dusting. Not an inch or two. But enough to put the world to sleep, if only for a day. A good snow brings everything to a standstill. The air goes quiet. Squirrels and birds hunker down. A blessed intermission comes upon us. There is silence. Time to withdraw. We remember what we may have forgotten during the season’s hustle and bustle: What is in the heart outweighs what is in the box.

Then, of course, the snow melts. We’re back driving the slushy streets, or carefully navigating the treacherous sidewalks. And all that was pristine is now covered in gray-black soot. Alas. The silence steals away.

But not really. It is always near, waiting for our restless, seeking souls.

The Rev. M. Dion Thompson is the rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Covenant.

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