It’s that most wonderful time of the year. But even with lights, family, presents, holiday movies, and great food, one emotion often eludes us: Peace. We can have everything on our wish list, but that settled calm seems to slip through our fingers.
We may ask ourselves why we feel disquieted on such a silent night as Christmas, then remember the bills that must be paid, looming deadlines, the query letters waiting in agents’ inboxes. Perhaps a child is not doing well in school, a family member is ill, a spouse lost a job. The more these thoughts bombard our minds, the more discomfiture overwhelms us. Isn’t this supposed to be a merry time of year?
Perhaps that is one of the reasons peace is included as one of the four candles of advent. It reminds us ahead of time how to find the peace we need. Indeed, it is at this time of year that peace is at our very finger tips. It is in the quiet of the snow, the flickering candles, the stillness as the world holds its breath at midnight on Christmas Eve.
One of my favorite carols is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, a song adapted from a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Christmas bells proclaimed peace, but at the time of its writing, the United States was embroiled in The Civil War. Peace was drowned by canon fire. Would hate win, Longfellow asks the bells. In answer, the bells cried even more loudly:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.
May that peace find you this Christmastime. And may God bless us, every one.