*This Christmas Season Night as I sit alone with ghosts from my past,
it occurs to me that each of us is a Silent Knight ...
A Silent Knight for whatever creed shapes our thoughts and steps.
No matter our words, it is our actions that speak for us.
Have we spoken love and forgiveness to only retort sharply at the harried store clerk who did not respond fast enough for us?
Have we scoured the stores for just the right present, the perfect gift wrap only to snap at the very ones for whom we bought it out of irritation and weariness?
Have we slaved over a king's spread of assorted recipes, only to have no appetite or warmth or patience for those for whom we prepared the delicious dishes?
If we were to glance up and see the flag of the True Creed which our actions proclaim we live by, would we cringe in disbelief?
Today books, films and Internet sites are filled with fanciful tales purporting to tell the history of "Silent Night."
Some tell of mice eating the bellows of the organ creating the necessity for a hymn to be accompanied by a guitar.
Others claim that Joseph Mohr was forced to write the words to a new carol in haste since the organ would not play.
The German words for the original six stanzas of the carol we know as "Silent Night" were written by Joseph Mohr in 1816,
when he was a young priest assigned to a pilgrimage church in Mariapfarr, Austria.
The fact is, we have no idea if any particular event inspired Joseph Mohr to pen his poetic version of the birth of the Christchild.
The world is fortunate, however, that he didn't leave it behind when he was transferred to Oberndorf the following year (1817).
On December 24, 1818 Joseph Mohr journeyed to the home of musician-schoolteacher Franz Gruber
who lived in an apartment over the schoolhouse in nearby Arnsdorf.
He showed his friend the poem and asked him to add a melody and guitar accompaniment so that it could be sung at Midnight Mass.
His reason for wanting the new carol is unknown.
Later that evening, as the two men, backed by the choir, stood in front of the main altar in St. Nicholas Church and sang "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!"
for the first time, they could hardly imagine the impact their composition would have on the world.
they were Silent Knights for their God.
As we, too, are Silent Knights for our gods:
Esteem in the eyes of others,
Control over Others,
Control over Ourselves,
He who sang the universe into being.
We can hardly imagine the impact our actions, positive or caustic,
will have on the network of fragile souls
in our world.
That fact should make us careful and compassionate in the days to come.
May your Christmas Season be magical and healing.
Me and my Christmas ghosts tip our egg nog to you,
while we listen to Josh Groban singing "Silent Night."
(Picture courtesy of S. Ward)