“And on a quiet Christmas morn, a child was in a stable born
Shepherds heard the baby cry, saw a new star in the sky
On a quiet Christmas morn”
I hear the voice of Mary Chapin Carpenter singing, the notes wrapping around me, holding me. I close my eyes letting the sweet sound carry me into a place of deep peacefulness.
As I write these words, it is Christmas Eve morning and people are getting ready for the big day, putting the finishing touches on their celebrations. Children’s spirits are so excited their skins can hardly hold them.
The weatherman says tonight will be cold and tomorrow clear and chilly. Perfect weather for those who like winter, and for kids who find “outside” toys under their trees.
At my house, Christmas morning comes slowly and in stages. Since there are no little ones to wake us at dawn, we stir early but not before the sun is up. We take our time with gifts, especially my youngest daughter who can get overwhelmed by too much activity.
Since the other grown children and their families celebrated the holiday with us last weekend, there is no rush of visitors Christmas Day. The relaxed feel of the day gives me space to reflect on what it all means to me.
“Now I walked out in the silent world, no engines roared, no sirens whined
No teasing boys chased squealing girls, no noisy school bells chimed
No one raced off to work through the din of honking horns.
There was truly peace on earth
On a quiet Christmas morn.”
The lyrics of the song slide into my consciousness. Peace — that is what I always feel on a quiet Christmas when the busy world seems to stop to catch its breath and to settle into just a moment of stillness.
Peace on Earth — we talk about it and we sing about it during this season, but is it possible. It seems more possible this time of year when people’s hearts open a little wider and folks give peace at least a passing thought. The words of the song fit perfectly with my thoughts this Christmas Eve morning.
“The hustle stops and the bustle stills on this day all is calm
Forgiving kindness and goodwill soothes like a healing balm
The hardest heart is softened by the blessing that was born
When the gift of grace was offered on a quiet Christmas morn.”
That is what happens this season; we feel that gift of grace if only for a little while. It is amazing to me how quickly that spirit leaves us. The carols end, the bright lights go back into storage and the world returns to business as usual.
Focusing on forgiving kindness and goodwill seem to get packed up as well. Thoughts of peace, both for individuals and on earth, slip into the background as we move full speed ahead into a New Year.
Just as I let myself get caught up in thinking about how there will never be peace because the world is too consumed with other things, and there is nothing that can be done about that, another song begins to play. I smile as the words remind me where peace on earth begins and that it is indeed possible if I hold the message of Christmas in my heart.
“Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.”
Here’s to a quiet Christmas morn