To make strange means to “act up or be nervous or shy when encountering a stranger or strange situation.”
This Christmas was the first for my niece – and all of the overwhelming firsts had her distraught at our large (my dad has 17 siblings – I mean LARGE!) family gathering. There was no consoling her or quieting those monstrous lungs – the girl was out of sorts and the strangeness of the situation was too much for her.
Her dad spent some time calming her in a quiet place in the lively hall and finally contentment painted her face adorably. There is so much that little girl cannot yet understand – but the whispers of her dad were deeply soothing. She returned to the Christmas celebration ready to interact and be pleasantly present in the midst of the clamor that continued.
Christmas can be a mix of beauty and struggle. The lights flicker, the celebration chorus’ ring, and the contrasting pain – for many – is deep. For many, food and festivities are plentiful – but others find themselves in hospitals, funeral homes and arguments.
A brand new year is emerging and it holds 365 days to be spent with care, intention, joy and God-given direction. People around the planet script personal resolutions wishing for varied results during this season.
Studies show that happiness is our greatest desire. Happiness means to “feel or show pleasure or contentment”. We want strength to show up in friendships, workplaces and families present and content in the midst of shifting circumstances, just like a quieted young one.
However, a quieted life wouldn’t typically classify as an exhilarating list topper for 2018 resolutions. This sounds mundane and the commitment to practice being still doesn’t show the instant results many of us are conditioned to desire.
However, over time
Results will be felt.
And undoubtedly, what is felt will eventually alter what is seen.
Mother Teresa was not yet a celebrated international figure when she spent her days with the dying and the sick. She routinely slipped away for hours to be still – in contemplative prayer. There were unmet needs … there will always be needs … but she stopped to be still. Mother Teresa understood she needed to experience God in order to return to the craze of the world powerfully present. There is much she did not understand – but to be with God is to be okay.
To be with God is to accept whatever life is and to perceive the guiding light for what is to be.
This year, as 2018 lurches close – Mother Teresa’s life reminds me that unglamorous silence is invaluable and is the grounding needed for any action plan to truly succeed.
This seems strange …
And making strange is undesirable both to the person experiencing it and to everyone around.
But to be strange means, to do something “not previously visited, seen or encountered; unfamiliar or alien.”
It is a strange thing to be quiet in our culture; untrodden territory for many.
But to be strangely silent with God in our bustling world helps us to avoid making strange.
Perhaps the best uncomplicated resolution we can make, is to prioritize quiet, in order to live powerfully present and contented in 2018.