The night is dark and quiet. Very quiet. We are in a small French village and it is already past midnight. The village is so small and the night so deep that not a single person is awake anymore. No cars are on the streets, no birds sing. We can close our eyes and are surrounded by nothing but darkness. It is the perfect night for silence. But it is late November and cold. Even although there is no wind, the cold creeps through our clothes and we shiver. Where to go? The desire for silence and closeness to God is overwhelming. There is an old Roman church in the center of this little village. This church has been listening to prayers and offering silence for the last 1200 years. It will certainly have some mercy with us. Come on, let’s enter!
It was like that nightmare where you are strolling through a shopping mall, window shopping for living room furniture, sipping an Orange Julius and suddenly look down and realize that you are naked as the day you were born. All the dream people are looking at you with wide eyes and slack jaws and you have to decide if you are going to run out of the mall with all of your hidden glories jiggling around or stroll on through the Food Court speaking with a fake French accent and acting as if they’re all just a bunch of backwards Americans who wouldn’t know a minimalist fashion statement from a hole in the ground.
I am German and the German word for Christmas is “Weihnachten”. “Nacht” simply means “night”. Nothing too special here. It is in the first part of the word “weihen” where all the meaning is hidden. This word means “to dedicate”, “to bless”, “to anoint” and “to consecrate”. Yes, all those big words in one little verb. “Weihnachten” is a night of blessing.