Tuesday, December 7, 2004

CHRISTMAS, MUSIC, & SILENCE

TURN YOUR RADIO ON. On an errand last evening, I turned on the radio in my Beetle. Christmas music--sacred and secular, sophisticated and sappy--played on many stations as I searched the dial. Everything from "Silent Night" sung acapella by a large choir to "Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey" sung by Lou Monte. "Dominic" still rings in my head. I can't get away from it.

WHAT IS ITS IMPACT ON US? Serious question: What is the impact of listening endlessly to Christmas music for over a month? How much of our understanding and expectation of the season comes from the incredible mix of Christmas music, instead of our own experience? How do we experience or encounter the unique gift of Christmas joy when we've been saturated with a thousand versions of how, when, and where it's going to happen? How much are we shaped by Christmas music? Is it merely elevator music or does it reach us? Should it?

MEASURE OF SPIRITUALITY. A person who's calling and witness I look up to once said that he could measure the temperature of his spirituality by how quickly he reached for the radio "on" button as he traveled around the city in his vehicle. The idea is that noise prevents silence and masks the "still small voice" of God. Am I ready and/or willing to let God speak to me?

BETTER THAN RUSH. Some of the spiritual masters, like Henri Nouwen, write about "mini-solitudes" in our transitions from one place, occasion, or appointment to another. One women who attended a church I served decided not to get her car CD and tape player fixed because she had been able to pray so effectively during the time she used to listen to Rush Limbaugh. Amen, sister!

GREATNESS OR NOISE? Granted, Advent and Christmas have inspired the greatest music. But can we really experience its depth if it becomes mere background noise in our hustle and bustle up to the day "you know who" comes to town?

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