It was not a silent night. The stables were full with extra animals from the visitors. All the animals were restless, sounding their calls with a sense of unease. They could sniff the stress of their human masters. Extra bodies meant extra chores, so there was extra stress all round.
It was not a silent night. The visitors in town made settling down well nigh impossible. Family reunions, catching up on gossip, calling around to see friends from long ago; the streets were abuzz with good-natured banter. None of the humans were silent for very long.
It was not a silent night. There was blood on the ground; you could hear the young woman streets away, her cry stabbing into the night, as the new baby made his way into the world of his family.
It was not a silent night.
Still, in our time, it is not a silent night. Yes, babies are rocked to sleep, and tired visitors bunk down to rest … but still, the sighs and groans of people in distress fill our nights, invade our minds, unsettle our lives.
It is not a silent night, for the woman battered by her partner.
It is not a silent night, for the old man grieving his loss.
It is not a silent night, for the young woman and her starving children, fleeing violence, seeking safety, hoping for a second chance.
It is not a silent night, for the indigenous young man in the lockup.
If we listen with care, we will realise: it is not a silent night.
It is not a silent night in our time … and yet, still, the baby makes his way into our lives. Not to whisk us away from all the noise and distress; but to be with us, to sit with us, to grow with us, to feel with us, and to share with us.
The baby becomes the man, the one who offers acceptance to everyone; the one who reassures us we are loved; the one who holds out the gift of grace and yearns to share all of life with us.
It is not a silent night. And we are grateful.