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Listening to Christmas

by Alan Harris
Have you ever heard snow?
Not the howling wind of a blizzard,
not the crackling of snow underfoot,
but the actual falling of snow?

We heard it one night in Wisconsin
quite unexpectedly
while walking up a hill
toward our cabin in the woods,
a soft whisper between footsteps.
We stopped, switched off our flashlights,
and just listened.
All around us in the darkness
we heard the gentle fall
of snow on snow.
No wind, no sound
but the snow.

Have you ever heard Christmas?
Not the traffic noises in the city,
not the bells and hymns and carols,
beautiful as they are,
not even the laughter of your children
as they open their presents--
but Christmas itself?

Have you been by yourself
and just sat and listened to the silence within,
patiently, without letting the mind
race to the next Christmas chore?

Perhaps if you have,
you felt the pulse of all humanity
beating in your own heart.

Perhaps you noticed
an outflowing of love
for all your brothers and sisters
on the earth,
a soft sense of Oneness
with all that lives.

In the silence of a snowy night,
listen intently, holding your breath,
and you may hear snow on snow.

Serene, alone,
undisturbed by thought,
listen to the silence in your heart,
and you may hear Christmas.

From the book Thunderbolt Blooming (1994)

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