One of the practices of advent suggested this year is to take a picture that reflects the word of the day. Today's word is listen. Listen. Such a simple and a yet a hard thing to do. I think this was something many people struggled with this morning in worship. There was a little one. My guess would be he doesn't attend church very often because the way his voice echoed and could be heard just made him want to talk even more and louder. So while we prayed, there was an extra voice; while we sang, there was an extra voice; while we spoke about missions, there was an extra voice. He had so much to share in such an acoustically rich environment. His words and actions were probably a distraction to many. With a second competing voice to listen became a challenge. To listen require acknowledging his voice but choosing to concentrate on a different voice or sound. When he went out to play, it was time for our moment of silence. That time when I invite people to breathe in and rest in the silence of God's Peace. This moment was very short this morning. There was rustling of bulletins after a few seconds. So I began the prayer. Listen. Not always easy or comfortable. Listen.
The song that stuck with me this morning in worship was Silver Bells. It began with the church bell chiming. The bell told. Then while decorating my parents tree we put up a set of jingle bells. Bells are something that always cause me to stop and listen. Bells pull us out of the space we are in and take as to a place of beauty. I always tell the bell choir when they worry that the tune they are playing doesn't sound like the song it is supposed to be that bells are always beautiful and sometimes they sound like the song we want.
When I first learned how to meditate, I was using practices by Thich Nhat Hahn. In these meditations he would start and stop them with the sounding of a bell. But he had one meditation where a bell would sound reminding you to return to your breath. So at intervals while you were breathing in and out the bell would sound to bring you back to listening to your breath in case your mind had wandered down those familiar paths of worry or planning. This meditation took time to practice well. The bell at first was constantly pulling me back from my thoughts, worries, plans. The bell would remind me to get out of my way and let the stillness in. May you take time to listen today. To hear the bells chiming, calling you to stillness, calling you to rest in God's Peace.