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I've become nocturnal.  I'm not sure why, although I am certain that I could easily come up with a dozen suspected reasons why sleep is eluding me these days.

 

Have you experienced it?  During the day you walk around in a bit of a fog.  And then, in the dark of night, WOW! how the thoughts and emotions pop.  Outside of that framework of daylight, it's easier, it seems, to become more aware of how I feel about things; the conversational Spanish that's buried somewhere deep within the recesses of my brain moves to the front and suddenly I'm brilliantly bilingual; the forgotten and undone tasks of the day are remembered; a song is born; I've solved the world's problems, or at least seemingly so and wonder, could it really be so simple?; I grow excited with the impending, dawning day and can't wait to hop out of bed and seize it, cramming as much of those ideas and songs and notes to write and chores to complete and problems to solve as I can into the day.  Whew! 

 

But then, in the midst of the darkness, suddenly keenly aware of all there is that can be done, I find I'm almost paralyzed to rise from the bed.  What exactly needs to be done?  I don't want to disturb the clarity that comes from the stillness.  You see, if I rise too soon, the dreamlike stupor will rapidly vanish, taking with it on the fleeting wings of night all that had seemed so clear to me in the silence.

 

I have been blessed over the last year or so, and especially in recent months, to have shared a bit of my story with you... a story that was born from silence and stillness.  And so many have asked me, "how?"  How do you do it?  How do you find the silence?  How do you find the clarity?  How do you make out God's voice to you amidst the din of living?

 

Jesus taught us over and over about the need to go into the desert, to be still, to listen.  Have you noticed how many times Jesus begins a parable or a story or a teaching with, "Listen!"?  There was a time when I equated this to our modern day, attention-getting "Hey!", as in, "Yo!  I'm about to speak."  Today, however, I think differently on Jesus' admonition to listen.  He modeled the example of listening as he would wander away to pray or spend time in the desert.

 

I know that in our crazy lives today, it's just not so easy to pack things up and go off into a place of solitude for a period of time.  I do believe it can be an amazingly meaningful and spiritual time.  But don't lose heart.  Find the silence in the breadth of the night.  Ease into and take comfort in the sleepless nights.  Appreciate the stillness.  Listen.

 

As I write this in the early, pre-dawn hours of the day, I drift to Mary.  What kind of clarity she must have had in the night!  A very conversation with an angel of the Lord!!  Surely she must have comprehended, even as she lay there in the stillness only days away from bearing the Christ child, that this son would be great, and yet would endure much.  And surely our loving and redeeming God did not leave Mary to fly solo on this journey of raising our Savior.  Can't you just imagine what peace and knowing she must have encountered as she lay there through the years, listening into the night?

 

Wishing you all the joy and wonder of this holy season of Advent and Christmas.  May you be astounded by God's love for you, as expressed in the very baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.

Grace and peace to you as you journey.

Yours in Christ,  

~~Jennifer

12/22/04

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