Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.
2 Corinthians 4:8
Written by Elizabeth Townsend
During a rough stretch of life, when my kids and I wanted to check on each other, we found ourselves asking “are you ok?”. It’s not a great question because ‘Yes’ seemed dishonest and ‘No’ seemed burdensome. We began to answer both “yes and no”. We gave space to be OK and not OK at the same time. Sounds simplistic, but it was a big shift for us. We were able to acknowledge a dissonance even if we didn’t have words to explain. Sometimes we were even able to discuss the balance of yes and no together. One day might be more Yes, one day more No.
Allowing ourselves that paradox was important. Approaching Christmas, I can feel a similar paradox. There is some dissonance where I think it should all be harmonious.
I feel initially compelled to look on the ideas of Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy and give a yes or no answer. I have them or I don’t. I feel them, or I don’t. When truthfully, some days, it is hard to read those words without tears. It is hard to read them without a sinking feeling in my stomach or a tightness in my chest.
Hope does not come easy right now. Peace feels distant. Love seems in short supply. Joy is a choice more than a feeling.
And yet, when I stop to dwell on those words my heart stirs. It’s not a yes or a no answer. When I consider those words in the context of Faith, I see beauty even in the dissonance. If I let myself, I can hold both yes and no together. There is dissonance and harmony somehow at the same time.
Hope does not come easy right now, and yet I cling to it. Sitting outside on a quiet chilly night, I see hope on the horizon.
Peace often feels distant and yet when I practice my Daily Office or take time to simply gaze on Christmas lights, I am overcome with a sense of Peace.
Joy is a choice more than a feeling and yet after a deep and fruitful conversation with a friend, Joy appears.
Love seems in short supply and yet I can offer extravagant love and have confidence that I am deeply and wholly loved.
This advent season, I am holding the difficulties of 2020 with the beauty of the life around me and the promises that come with the birth of Christ. I invite you not to be afraid to sit in a space that doesn't feel harmonious. Make allowance for a little “holy dissonance”. God will meet you with His Hope, His Peace, His Joy, and His Love.
Enlarge our understanding so that we may allow holy dissonance, the reality of Your presence in the midst of suffering. Jesus, Light of the world, into our darkness, come.
Conclude with Stillness (2 minutes)