Silent Nigh

Nope. I didn’t forget  the “t.” And this isn’t about a Christmas carol. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

For us, the noisiness of the holidays was both joyful and tiring. It was wonderful to have both our adult children and our seven grandkids home for Christmas – a rare occurance. But this year’s holiday was complicated with our daughter’s impending relocation from Shanghai to Raleigh. She flew through LAX with her younger son, picked up her father, and all flew on to North Carolina to house hunt the week prior to Christmas. Her husband flew to Raleigh a few days later, with their older son, to view the final three possible houses, make a decision, and then negotiate the terms of sale. I held the fort down in California, quietly preparing everything for Christmas. Did I say quietly?  

My husband and our daughter’s family arrived home on the 23rd, grandson Ian’s birthday. The quiet house was filled with the joyous noise pf children excited about birthdays and the arrival of cousins and Santa in a few days. Our adopted Chinese grandson Ian has been with his new family only ten months. In that short time he has become amazingly fluent in English. And I’m pretty sure he has accomplished this by asking “why” non-stop. Although Ian has just turned five, his language acquisition skills are more like a 2-3 year old’s. Can you remember the toddler days of the endless whys? Little ones aren’t really that interested in the answer to their whys. They’re interested in keeping someone talking to them because that’s how they learn a language and acquire vocabulary. It’s a miracle to behold and a privilege to participate in, but we all agreed it’s tiring, and hard on the accustomed silence of a home.

And then all too soon everyone was packed and gone. The silence and solitude of our home returned. While I love the celebratory commotion of the holidays, and the intimate energy of family living together, I realized at the end of the week how much time I spend in silence every day, and that silence is a necessary ingredient of my creativity. When I attend my creativity, it often comes bubbling and bursting out of that silence, turning itself into something tangible; the invisible becoming visible, the ordinary becoming extraordinary. Also, my creative process is not about asking why, but about asking what, how, and Who for. That’s where the word nigh fits in. Nigh suggests the nearness of time, place or… relationship. There is something near in the silence that is available if I will sit with it. The silent nigh.

Brother Tom, a dear friend, extended a New Year’s invitation to many of us to spend time in silence, to sit with God. For me, that makes all the difference in my creative process.

What place does silence have in your life? How do you experience the connection between silence and creativity – however that might be defined in your life? How might you intentionally invite silence into your life? What do you think might happen if you did? After you faced all the scariness of that, what do you think will happen?

I’m looking forward to your comments!

Happy New Year!

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7 comments to Silent Nigh

  • Yes. Beautiful invitation to sink into the silence I’m craving. Much love to you and blessings for sharing the journey!

  • Maria

    Oh, the treasure of silence…solitude, stillness, renewal, refreshment. Thank you for the beautiful reminder, Lynne!


    Thank you, Lynn. I know exactly where you are coming from. The excitement of family around you is wonderful, but the quiet time is, too, especially as you get older!

  • Deanna J Bowling

    “The Origin of Consciousness in the Break-Down of the Bicameral Mind.” This is the title of a book that I have had for some years, wherein Julian Jaynes as I best remember, posits that when humans were first formed, a portion of their brains were made specifically to hear God’s directions on how to live. And further, Jaynes posits that as the population of humans increased and living on this earth became nosier and nosier, that hearing God’s guiding words became harder and harder to discern. As per the statement, use it or loose it, in dealing with the difficulty of hearing, humans started to not try to listen for God’s words, and as they started not using that portion of their brain, they lost it’s function.
    Now, I don’t know if this is true, but the thermion has always fascinated me. I have a creative “streak” in me, but I need quiet time, alone time, to think things out. I spend most of my time laying out what I “think” the latest product of my creative nature is going to look like, and even then what ever I am attempting to create often takes on a life of it’s own, and leads me down it’s own path.
    I don’t know, Lynne, how you handled having 4 adult children/children-in-law along with 7 grandchildren, in your home over the holidays. I would be “done” with the whole idea of relating to so many people in 2 to 3 hours, much less 2 weeks (?). I need me time, quiet time, in order to function. So multiple blessings upon you for the love you have for all peoples, that allows you to be so open to others.

  • cynthia thomas

    quiet time allows me to center myself. when i do this, esp. in meditation, my day tends to go better, smoother, more focussed. and this quiet time is essential to creating, at least in the planning stage. in noise, i’m very distractable. to the point that i can’t create. once i’ve planned what i want to create, i can deal w/some noise/distraction. cynthia

  • Esther G Smith

    I loved this blog! I have always loved silence and solitude, but I also loved it when the house was full of family. Somehow, I felt like a mother bird so content that all the birdies were back in the nest, even if only for a day or two. I loved the “empty nest” but it was great to have it full once again! I felt sad and relieved at the same time when the kids left.

    I too felt a creative spurt after that–usually geared toward planning my preaching texts for the year, I loved that time of wrestling with the Lectionary, and scripture, and waiting and listening. I often took a day or two silent retreat at Mt. Calvary in Santa Barbara.

    But the silence after a family visit changed after Wayne died. Part of the joy after a family visit was reflecting on it with Wayne at the end of the day over dinner. “Wasn’t Gracie just adorable as a little angel in the kids nativity play?” The silence after a joyful visit from the kids became painful when there was no one to process the visit with me. I loved the silence when I knew that at the end of the day, there would be great conversation and reflection with the one I loved. The silence was now deafening and hollow.

    I think part of the grief process for me, is learning to love the silence once again.

    Keep up the great blog!
    Love and blessings,

  • Jeannie Cavender

    One of the most significant scripture passages for me is “Be still and know that I am God.” Further breaking it down as I am sure you have encountered.

    Be still and know that I am God.
    Be still and know I am
    Be still and know
    Be still

    I find that if I can move to “be” that my sense of self and relationship particularly with God becomes more alive and real.

    Your Christmas “adventure” was fun to read. found myself in an empty 4 bedroom house for the first time in over 2 weeks just last night . I still stepped over a few remaining marker pens and a picture with “I love you Grammy” written in 5 year old handwriting on the the small table in the kitchen. – I carefully tacked it on the bulletin board above my desk.

    I put Peter Rabbit dishes away and one bib that had been my sons at one time.

    Iclosed the lid on the doll chest that began as my mothers.

    I was grateful for the small hands that like to use the guest towels and “pretty soap” in the guest bathroom.

    All a part of the chaos you come to cherish because it passes so quickly.

    I miss them as they head home to a cabin like house in north central Washington with 3 feet of snow and then turn to my almost 98 year old mother who is currently battling pneumonia in the hospital – tis the bittersweet of life.

    Thanks for sharing Lynne and inviting us to share..

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