As a teenager, one of my favorite songs was “The Sound of Silence” with that heart wrenching lyric, “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again. Because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping. And the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains, within the sound of silence.”
We are in the time of silence and darkness again. Short days. Long nights. Times of division and deceit. For many, a time of loneliness, and for others hopelessness. Yet into the silent darkness creeps a vision that leaves its seeds while we are sleeping. That vision is one of light coming into the darkness and showing us another way forward within the sounds of silence.
It is easy to polarize the dark and the light as though we could live with one and not the other. As if one were good and one was bad. As if one is preferential and the other better left behind. From such thinking, it is easy to slide into racist imaginings where dark is something to be feared and light is normalized and not to be called “my old friend.” This easy and destructive slide was showing its head in my teenage years, and so, when “The Sound of Silence” came across the airwaves, it was a wakeup call that resounded. The vision within the lyric remains in the airwaves of our country and continues to seed itself in new forms, such as Black Lives Matter.
Today in my little village of Shelburne Falls, the snow is falling silently and the ground and all of us walking around are covered in silence and a particular lightness of being that comes when we are given a few hours to stop all activity and watch and listen and wait. This is the season of Advent, when Christians wait and watch expectantly and when we are called forward to enter a time of repentance; of turning away from what is hurtful and toward what is life-giving. We do not rush to Christmas Day. We linger and listen to the visions planted in our brains. A vision of a world that is not divided between dark and light, but is held firmly together and where the psalmist says “justice and mercy will embrace.”
In Advent, we hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah who some believe was speaking of Jesus, but who others, myself included, hear on his own terms; a prophet seeing in his own time a vision that resonates today. Isaiah proclaims and Jesus was later to preach “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”
Hello good news. Hello repentance and turning away from hate and fear. We need you. Hello darkness. Hello silence. Hello lightness. Hello speaking. Hello hearing speech. Hello all that binds up the brokenhearted and proclaims liberty and release from what holds us prisoner to hurtful ways of being. Thank you for a day to be quiet as the weak winter sun sets and the darkness covers us for the night. Thank you for the days of Advent and for what comes next.
Photo by Marguerite Sheehan.
About Marguerite Sheehan
Rev. Marguerite Sheehan is a United Church of Christ pastor presently serving Trinity Church, an ecumenical church in Shelburne Falls MA. She blogs at reverendmarguerite.wordpress.com and also writes a pastoral column for the Shelburne Falls West County Independent newspaper. She is a pastor, preacher, wife, lesbian feminist, mother, friend and grandmother.