For more than twenty years, the concrete pillars, rough-hewn limestone blocks, and simple wooden benches have been part of my life.
In the beginning, we wore black and white, like the monks. We’d arrive in segments, and quietly shuffle to individual spots. Then we’d huddle together periodically in the back of the church. We would match pitch to a tinny pipe, keep tempo with arms that moved with precision, and fill the space with beautiful sounds.
For a few years, we were able to continue the black and white and the beautiful music—with babies in tow. For now, our time of helping to create the music has ended. But we can still go to listen and pray.
O Wisdom, O holy Word of God.
One of our family Advent traditions has been to go hear the “O Antiphons” sung by monks at a local(ish) monastery. This place is very special to us, and we love that we can share it with our children. One night during Advent, we pack everyone into the car and drive nearly an hour to listen to Vespers, the traditional prayers of Religious for the six o’clock hour.
You govern all creation with your strong yet tender care.
All of my babies’ fingers have sought out the little holes in the concrete pillars. All of them have likely lost a paper or book as it slid off the steep pitch of the wooden bench. All of them have heard their steps on the concrete floor, and their not-so-hushed “whispers” echo off the limestone walls.
And all of my babies have heard beautiful music there, too.
Come and show your people the way to salvation.
I know the second week of Advent focuses on peace, and I found twenty minutes of peace on this night. It was there amidst a tiny tree with bright white lights; white candles briefly lit; simple wooden benches, rough-hewn limestone blocks, and concrete pillars; a not-so-little kid snuggled up on my lap, and the beautiful sounds of square black notes on a white background sung by some of our favorite people.
Whether it’s in your home, alone in your car, in a quiet place—or perhaps a not-so-quiet church with footsteps and “whispers”—I hope that you, too, are able to find a few moments of peace in these grace-filled days of Advent.