Teach me to stop and listen

Watch out, the ultimate commerce season is upon us! I went for a walk in the beautiful winter sun and decided to stop for coffee. There it was: the first Christmas tree and the entire store already decked out in red and green, seasonal symbols, and superfluous merchandise. I got all worked up about it and decided that this is the last time this year that I will stop at Starbucks for coffee!

Teach me to stop and listen,
Teach me to center down,
Teach me the use of silence,
Teach me where peace is found…

I really needed these words after my walk. They were helpful for me to find my calm again. They are from a song that was offered to the Quaker worship group here in Whitehorse by a visiting friend from Ontario last year. At the time, nobody was able to retain the lyrics or the melody. But we all remembered the powerful influence the simple hymn had on the ability of the gathered folks to center and enter into silent worship that particular day.

It took us several attempts to locate the lyrics, which can be found online (Ken Medema is the author). But we had no melody to sing along with. A few days ago, one of the members of the worship group took the initiative and contacted the woman in Ontario who sang it for us. Their worship group was so kind to record the hymn for us on a cell phone and email the file so our worship group can learn it! What a precious gift! Thank you to all the people gathered at the Lucknow Worship Group!

Now it will be our task to practice. It should be an easy task, since we have a few members who are avid singers in various choirs here in the Yukon. I got carried away transcribing the melody, playing it on the virtual keyboard on my laptop, and producing sheet music with the fancy software that rests dormant for most of the time. The sheet music will complement the lovely life recording. Here you can find a pdf version:

Teach me to stop and listen

The melody can be listened to following this link: Teach me to stop and listen again

I am looking forward to our next meeting for worship and hope that the group will embrace the use of the song as the opening of our worship time.

…then when it’s time for moving,
Grant it that I may bring,
To every day and moment
Peace from a silent spring.

During the next few weeks, as the commercialization of the season will steadily intensify, I will remember the last verse of the song and try to bring peace in little pieces by avoiding all temptations and pressures to engage in wasteful consumerism. I will rather stop and listen for the small voice and the words that will tell me about the essence of the upcoming season.

6 thoughts on “Teach me to stop and listen

  1. Love the lines from the hymn, both verses. They had the intended effect on me. Aaaah, exhale into peace. Yes, Christmas … the simple warmth i used to enjoy from it has been eroded by the craziness that seems to overtake even the best hearts. The insanity of more stuff for those of us who have too much already. You know, i saw a bumpersticker the other day: “Peel back the hypocrisy. Mining supports your life.” It’s like the lost truth of Christmas, you know? Because the reality is “Peel back the hypocrisy. The planet supports life. Mining produces more stuff.” And we buy it. We buy into it. And Christmas is a frenzy of it. What we see downtown in Whitehorse isn’t even a crumb of what’s actually occurring, even just here, via internet. The simplicity, warmth and love of the planet and the people, get lost. However, there is nought, as you say, but to centre down into the place that peace is found, accept how it is, accept those we love as they are, love, and gently do what we can to make change. Thanks for the blog, Othmar.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Erica. I will be getting into the seasonal spirit by observing advent, a time of silence and reflective preparation. I like the tradition of lighting one more candle each week for the four weeks leading up to the symbolic return of the light/the Light. And I like the smell of baking cookies during that time – I will have to make an effort this year to do it myself. Chräbeli, a kind of anise cookie, is still my favourite.
      In the meantime, let us enjoy November for what it is, the season of grey skies and blankets of fresh snow…

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