"Silent Night" is, in my opinion, one of our most beautiful Christmas carols. Even for those who may not believe in the "virgin, holy and mild," the elegant melody combined with the evocation of a silent, holy night of heavenly peace is, for me, serenely uplifting. All humans have the ability to experience this personally: a silent momentary deepening of a divine, peaceful connection is a precious and cherished time, indeed.
But the song was written in troubled times. The world the author Joseph Mohr lived in was anything but silent and peaceful. In 1816, Europe was just getting over 22 years of war. Napoleon had engaged nearly all the European nations in battle for a whole generation.
Our own world has many wars going on right now. Depending on who is counting there are at least 30 armed conflicts going on right now with people being killed, tortured, jailed, displaced or just living in constant upheaval. Again, we have generations of people under duress. And yet, at any moment, any one of them might be inspired to write some words or music because they have experienced that feeling of a silent, holy night.
If you live in relative safety, if your home or neighborhood is intact and not bombed or under threat, be thankful. You are one of the lucky ones. Say a prayer for those less fortunate.
But even you can know that a serene silence, even in the middle of a busy holiday season, or in the middle of an overwhelming day, or in the middle of a sad or happy mood -- no matter what kind of distraction holds your attention -- you can know that a silent, holy moment is yours for the taking. Peace is within your grasp because peace can, indeed it must, be found within.
Turn off the computer. Turn off the radio, iPod or TV. Walk away from the conversations. Go to a quiet place. Stand or sit in the silence and just breathe in. Breathe out. And cherish your ability to make a divine peaceful connection to all that is. Breathe in and breathe out and let the breathing deepen the silence. And feel the natural comfort and joy of a silent, holy moment of heavenly peace.