High River United Church of High River, Alberta


Quieting the Disquieting Hum: An Advent Reflection

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I wonder, if like me, you are noticing a disquieting “hum” around us and the planet? The best I can do is describe it like a subtle static buzz that is causing many of us to feel slightly off—out of whack, or something like that. I know that we’re all doing the very best we can to hold on, to grasp at some form of “normal” during these times and yet, despite our best efforts we can’t quite avoid the “hum”. I wonder, what can Advent offer us this year that serves to quiet such a disquieting hum?


One thing I know for sure, is that Advent is a season of contemplation (from the Latin contemplatio which among several root definitions means “to chew upon”). Now this particular definition holds special meaning for me. As a boy growing up on a dairy farm, I remember turning out the stable lights after all the chores were done. I would stand quietly in the dark by the stable door and listen to the cows muzzle their hay and chew their cud. It was the most peaceful sound in all the world. Just the simple act of standing there, in the dark, in the presence of the animals, offered me a felt sense of contentment and yes, peace. There was no disquieting hum in the stable that night. This was a contemplative moment. I felt like I was in the presence of something much deeper and wider than my own experience. It was holy.


That’s what contemplation does. It leads us into the presence of the Divine. It connects us with a much wider, compassionate, and generous wisdom. It will always lead us beyond ourselves. Contemplation will always turn us into the territory of the higher good whereupon we naturally become mindful of others along with the felt sense of being connected to all living beings. In these contemplative moments, hardened hearts soften. Friends… this is an ancient truth. It is available to us. All we need to do is be still, be attentive, and be led into the presence of God. In the stable that night. In the dark while listening to the cows, I know I was drawn into the presence of holy wisdom, wonder and oneness.


I think this is what we need right now—a contemplative awareness of wisdom, wonder and oneness… a sense of that which is much bigger than us which leads us into the expansive presence of God or, Love itself. Once there, the disquieting hum of shaky markets, disrupted supply chains, polarizing politics, alarming environmental disasters, and tragic human circumstances, are held by spacious, holy, healing love. This is the territory of the Divine heart, of the wider good, of a renewed sense that in the Presence of God, “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well”, to quote St. Julian of Norwich who trusted such timeless wisdom even during her own suffering and discomfort. Remember, she lived through two plagues during her lifetime! Yet, despite the disquieting hum of her 14th-15th century life, her contemplative practice kept her connected to the wonder and oneness of God and to her dedicated service toward others.


If St. Julian can do it, so can we. Advent invites us to slow our pace enough to simply contemplate—to allow ourselves to be drawn into the wisdom, wonder and oneness of God’s love. I know this will help quell the disquieting hum and temper the polarizing and dualistic energy around us that seeks only to divide and disrupt. This Advent, I am opting out of such irritating energy. This Advent, I invite you to journey spiritually with me and our beloved community on a path of contemplation. I invite us to be led by a much wider and deeper mystery that serves to soothe our alarm, quiet our being, and soften our hearts toward one another.


May this Advent be a season of contemplation—of quietly chewing upon the ancient wisdom of our Faith that serves to satisfy the hungry soul, provide rest for our being, and lead us into the territory of compassionate and contented love. Ahhh, no more “hum”. Just the peaceful essence of Holy Wisdom, Wonder and Oneness inviting us to be still… at the stable door.


by Rev. David L. Robertson

©December 8, 2021



Cows barn


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