Growing Still is an Advent practice of being still for an increasing amount of time each day of the season – from one minute on December 1st to 24 minutes on Christmas Eve.
Today’s practice of stillness is 9 minutes.
Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
“Cover up, Jeffrey! The choir’s coming!”
It gave us all a chuckle to hear the nurse’s instructions as we got closer to Jeffrey’s room. We let the men go in first, just in case it was taking Jeffrey a little longer to get ready. It was an unexpected stop as our little group caroled through the multiple cottages of the nursing home, singing for residents gathered in the common areas rather than going to individual rooms. But the nurse had stopped us in the hallway and asked us if we could sing to Jeffrey in his room.
“I need a miracle,” she said.
Jeffrey was incredibly fretful and the nurse had tried everything she knew to ease his mind and calm his spirit.
Indeed, when we got there, Jeffrey, though bed bound, could not be still. He pulled anxiously on his yellow, crocheted afghan as he tried to get up, voicing a desperate message that we could not understand but his caregiver had clearly heard many times.
She spoke soothingly to him as she brushed the hair back from his forehead, inviting him to enjoy the beautiful music the carolers had come to share with him.
As we began, “Silent Night,” Jeffrey continued to be restless, darting his eyes between these strangers in front of him and the trusted nurse beside him. He continued to talk to her in a fearful tone, though the volume softened little by little.
By the second verse Jeffrey appeared slightly more at ease and as we finished the third stanza he drew a big smile, turned to the nurse and said, “I know these people!” He relaxed back into his pillow and wished us a Merry Christmas as we turned to leave his room.
I believe the nurse received her miracle that night. For a few short minutes, she knew the calm of stillness; physical and emotional stillness for her patient, and a deep stillness in her own weary, loving soul.
Respite is a gift of stillness that we can give to others. Those brief moments that allow the whirlwind of life to die down, even for just a little while, and remind us of the peace we carry within us, the divine gift of stillness that never leaves us.