Silent night

December 19th, 2007

All is calm, all is bright.

Can’t you hear the quiet? We all seem to be shutting down the works this week. My friend who put her blog on semi-permanent pause; the others wisely taking hiatus hither and yon. The email slows, the work dries to a dribble and stops. We stand still and then what?

This slowing down, this shortening of the day, does it make us anxious? Does it make us afraid? Or do we hurry up elsewhere to compensate? Quick! Find a crowd. Create a stir. Start a fight.

Within light there is darkness, but do try to try to understand that darkness.

This article in yesterday’s paper lit a bulb for me. Once again, it shows us something about ourselves that we do not see. Or rather, when we do see it, we only see it superficially and seek to change it. It’s about Seasonal Affective Disorder, the name given to the obvious fact that when the days shorten we go dark as well, withdrawing into ourselves, becoming less alert, less social, and less cheerful. What struck me about the story was not the symptoms described, which seem quite normal, natural and appropriate.

Light and darkness are a pair like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.

What struck me about the article was the use of the word “disorder.” Talk about a disorder! Of course I realize that the pharmaceutical industry drives the disordering of our world, but in buying it we show what a narrow range of life and time we accept as “ordered.”

Each thing has its own intrinsic value and is related to everything else in function and position.

Winter is winter. Cold is cold. The branches are brittle and bare. The quiet glistens. The darkness shines. Winter is its own time, and it passes in its own way. Right now, can you appreciate things as they are? You, as you are?

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Wishing you every comfort of the season, every calm, every hush, every star blazing full in your perfect silent night. Amen.

Combining the poetic brilliance of “Silent Night” and “The Identity of Relative and Absolute.”


  1. Of course, people just feel more comfortable when there is a label attached.

    Yes, I love the short days, cold white snow, dark nights, the quiet, the calm, peace – ahhhhhh. (And then the relatives come to visit! hahahahahahah–but you covered that yesterday).

    And all of those good things you mentioned? To you too. Peace and beauty in every moment.

    Comment by denise — December 19, 2007 @ 10:14 pm

  2. I read the other day that crying is sometimes all that we need to soothe ourselves, yet we fight it so often. It is true.

    Silence is powerful. Shutting down, drawing ourselves inward … it’s all beautiful. I feel no guilt today as I just worry about me (and this great new stove I got as an early Christmas present!)

    In fact, I’m writing my return post in my head and it will talk about solitude and silence — and what I neglected to say in my last post.

    Peace to all! That’s all I wish for this holiday. Peace within.

    Comment by Shawn — December 19, 2007 @ 11:40 pm

  3. A silent night is good–but a little laughter heard in the distance is pretty all right too.

    Comment by Marta — December 20, 2007 @ 2:17 am

  4. Karen,

    I am so in awe. You left a comment on my blog today (on a messy, sloppy pregnant mama’s attempt to write while toddlers scream around me;)

    Anyway, I am in awe because yesterday as I was wandering Village Books in Bellingham, WA, I stumbled across your book, grabbed it immediately and bought and and then today was able to sit in a coffee house sans children and soak it up like the bubble bath of liquid gold my soul needed.

    I am so thankful you wrote that book. Thank you for checking out my words.


    Comment by mb — December 20, 2007 @ 3:54 am

  5. The cold and withdraw and starkness comes because we, I, NEED it.
    Stilling, quieting, entering the cave. . .it comes as invitation.

    Comment by bella — December 20, 2007 @ 4:07 am

  6. MaryBeth,
    Isn’t it amazing the way the dharma works? By itself. You inspire an equal amount of gratitude in me.


    Comment by Karen — December 20, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

  7. I tried four times to post this comment from my phone, but it oddly malfunctioned.

    You just can’t quote the Identity of Absolute and Relative to parents (I actually mean mothers and SAHDs) without including this line:

    If you do not see the path, then you do not see the path even as you are on it.

    Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas and Good Luck Shopping to all, and to all a peaceful knowledge of life as it flows through us,


    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — December 20, 2007 @ 10:50 pm

  8. Beautiful. We need winter. Just like we need sleep.

    Comment by Mika — December 21, 2007 @ 3:16 am

  9. I am grateful to have found your words – clear, piercing, like the cold. If I continue to read only a handful of blogs in 2008, yours will be one of them.

    Intrinsic value, without judgment, as is.

    Happy new year,


    Comment by Jena Strong — December 21, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  10. As a college student in the early 1960s, I recall reading Marshall McLuhan’s observation in THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE that television would forever alter our way of being in the world, as so it has … along with computers, videogames, PDAs, cell phones, VCRs, DVRs, DVDs ad nauseum. Perhaps, however, it was Edison and the electric light bulb that started the ball rolling … taking us away from the natural rhythms created by light and darkness. Of course there’s good and bad in everything, but LABELS of any kind seem to rob us of the essence of experience … and “disorders” of any kind become “things” to be “fixed” rather than allowing human interaction to BE “as is” … in the precious present of now.

    May 2008 bring mindful awareness, peace, wonder, joy … with gratitude for what is, hope for what might be (if only) and courage to let ourselves and others be “independent and together.”
    Hugs and blessings,

    Comment by storyteller — December 29, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

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