From the very first time I heard this version of Silent Night, it has affected me as very few other songs have done. There is something so pure, so holy, so other-worldly about it, that every time I listen to it, it seems to fill me with a desire that I can not explain in words. Many times in my life, this song has reached out to me in varying places and experiences.
One of my most poignant moments was the year I was a sophomore at college. My family had moved far away from me: from Utah to the Seattle, Washington area. It was the first time I had ever lived away from them and homesickness hit me hard. I had moved into student apartments and had five female roommates. Three of them seemed to dislike me from the moment I walked through the door and the bullying, snide comments and criticisms started just a few days later. I did my best to just stay away from the house as much as possible and frequently only went home to sleep, shower and change clothes.
Because of this treatment, few students looked forward to their Christmas break as much as I did at that time. When finals were over, I gleefully found a ride up to Seattle and anticipated a Christmas with my family, especially my parents and my sisters. I daydreamed about the shopping, baking, wrapping and get-togethers we were about to have. All of my family would be there, along with in-laws and baby nieces and nephews. I relished the idea of love and kindness and fun to be shared.
But all family holidays have their difficulties and in the midst of so many people, children, illness and other unexpected challenges, I felt rather forgotten, lost and yes, alone. Though it was good to be with family, I still felt something missing. That joy I always felt at Christmas seemed to escape me.
Christmas Eve came and all the adults were hurriedly finishing the wrapping and cooking for the next day. Everyone was tired and began to snap at each other. Having just lived through months of bullying, I couldn’t handle it and I put on my coat and slipped out unnoticed for a walk. It was about 10 pm and not a soul was outside. I walked slowly down the main street to the dock overlooking the harbor. It was so still that it seemed almost unreal…like a painting.
And then it came from a nearby house…the quiet notes of Silent Night. Almost like the distant chimes of bells playing softly over the water, they were the only sound that could be heard. It was then that I realized the song was for me…a gentle reminder that I was known and loved by the Savior of the world. I was not forgotten, I was not lost, I was not alone. By the time the song was finished, I couldn’t hold back the tears. The thick snowflakes landed on my cheeks as I looked up at the sky. I whispered “Thank you” and felt such love embrace me. The sacred peacefulness of it seemed to fill and heal every part of my aching soul. The miracle of Christmas had arrived.
The knowledge of His love gave me strength to view things in a different way. Instead of it being all about me, it became about the Savior and His example of selflessness. Did it mean that everything changed and the rest of that year was perfect? No. But it gave me valuable insight into how much I was loved by the King of all Kings helping me to see others in that same light.
Dear friends, it is my wish this Christmas that the spirit of this season will come quietly into your lives and heal your aching hearts and lift your burdens…just as it did for me on that night so many years ago. Merry Christmas to you all!