Unwrap a Post-Christmas Silence
If we cannot wonder, how can we presume to know the Timeless and Eternal God? Without wonder, how may we know ourselves? How do we remember that time is a construct to which we must not become enslaved?
By what means shall we know that, when we are so deeply immersed in the seasonal pronouncements of Madison Avenue, where Christmas begins (at the latest) in early November and ends on December 26, whence commences Valentine's Day? In all times and seasons the media-message is a weirdly incongruous (and John Lennonesque) amalgam of "be here now" and "serve yourself."
Well, all right then! For 2012, resolve to be here now, and to serve yourself, but do it in this most excellent way: by cultivating silence and overcoming time within one of the classic disciplines of daily prayer—where the pulse of the psalms calms the breath, the pockets of silence center the spirit, and the liturgical calendar frees us from the shackles of time.
For many Christians, this means the Liturgy of the Hours. Whether in book or digi-form, a breviary is a gift that, unwrapped and utilized, trains us in the procurement of silence and lures a time-out-of-joint into lustrous submission.
And it reminds us of the real time in which we live, or should be living. Though the commerce-exhausted secular holiday is past for another year, Christmas is far from over. Rather, in the breviary its prayers are continued, renewed each morning and again at Vespers: "In the beginning, before time began, the Word was God; today he is born, the Savior of the world."
The mystery, the wonder, the gladness; it has not ended. Each day in the Octave of Christmas the words are cast again upon the air, resonating like ripples out into the world and reclaiming time from its insistent march away, always away, from what is before us.
In the Liturgy of the Hours, we are invited to stay, and to wonder and to marvel, and to not slip back into the rush, the illusion, the purposeful march away. In our silent wondering we find our knowing, and in our knowing, we find real joy.
This piece first appeared in 2010 at First Things.