They’ll join hands around the table and give thanks for the abundance we all have been blessed with. Almost without exception, those of us with the least even have so much more than our brothers and sisters around the world who have, comparatively speaking, almost nothing.
At the same time, many of us will miss the underlying philosophy behind the day, having been lulled into thinking it’s little more than the Macy’s parade and our once a year excuse for a tryptophan over dose and endless football games.
While Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day come but once a year, we need to learn to properly celebrate, give thanks and tell those we love that we love them – and not just on those holidays, but each and every day. It’s a matter of learning to live in a spirit of love with an attitude of gratitude.
The biggest enemy to us not doing that on a daily basis?
Noise; plain and simple.
Father Richard Rohr said it best; “Probably more than ever, because of iPads, cell phones, billboards, TVs and iPods, we are a toxically overstimulated people.”
We no longer know what to do with the silence we desperately need. We need to reconnect with ourselves, our family and the core of who we are. That’s hard to do amidst the noise and restlessness of daily life; and almost impossible if you live, as he described; “toxically overstimulated.”
Mother Teresa said, “God is the friend of silence. See how nature, trees, flowers, grass grow in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
Take this holiday season to reflect in that silence, the gifts we are given and most of all, our families. As I approach this holiday, it’s with the knowledge that it was going to be spent with my extended family at my mom’s home in Springfield. That’s our family’s tradition; it’s what we do every year. That is, until we unexpectedly lost her 4 weeks ago.
I took that tradition for granted and now it’s gone.
The world of silence isn’t an easy place for many of us to be; it’s not normal, it’s not where we feel we belong. We struggle to fill every available moment of our lives with noise; activities we often don’t need to participate in, places we don’t need to go, meetings we don’t really need to attend.
It only takes one look at my planner to see how badly I avoid the silence; jam packed days, one after another. I’m a writer, an artist, I have a day job, I’m a husband, a dad, a step dad and a friend. When I finally do go to bed at night, I set my sleep timer for 45 minutes so the news plays as I go to sleep. Before my feet hit the floor each morning, my smartphone goes off at 5:30 am, streaming my favorite talk show. It follows me to the shower and plays while I’m getting ready; all in an effort to avoid the silence.
Father Rohr goes on to say, “The ego gets what it wants with words. The soul finds what it needs in silence. The ego prefers light—immediate answers, full clarity, absolute certitude, moral perfection, and undeniable conclusion—whereas the soul prefers the subtle world of darkness and light. And by that, of course, I mean a real interior silence, not just the absence of noise.”
Silence is a luxury item we need to seek out in life, not something we fear. And we need to find peace in that silence. As we enter this holiday season, promise yourself to turn down the noise and tune in to those around you; the things and people that really matter.
Learn to live at least part of each day outside of the noise and in the silence. It’s a far happier place to be than you might suspect and you just may find a better version of yourself.
Life changes in the blink of an eye; take the time this Thanksgiving with family and friends and truly give thanks. And in doing so, find some silence.