When I open the front door, I am overwhelmed by the silence outside. How absolutely quiet the world has become! Usually there is at least some noise and movement at this hour. But not today. Today everything is still.

A few snowflakes fall out of a gray, overcast sky, adding to the sense of mystery. I zip up my coat and step into this gentle world of silence.

It’s the very first morning of the new year. Silent and wide and full of hope and expectation. The celebrations lasted till early morning, but now it seems as if I’m the only one awake.

The changeover was anything but peaceful. It was loud, even deafeningly so at times. But now, as the early morning light pierces through the darkness, everything is still.

I like to think it was silent as well when God was halfway through creating the world. Imagine how quiet it must have been right before He populated it with animals and birds and finally with the first humans. There might have only been the soft sound of a gentle breeze through the leaves and maybe the rippling of a brook.

I believe it is easier to connect with God in the silence. It’s almost as if you could touch Him. You can hear Him whisper words of love and wisdom: “Don’t you worry. I’ll take care of you too.”

How wonderful to walk with Him through these empty lanes!

Suddenly a man comes around a corner. Just like me, he is walking without a particular goal. He’s just enjoying the view, just listening to the same silence.

When he passes, we smile at each other. “Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!” 1 he says while his eyes light up.

I nod and smile back, then he’s gone and I’m again alone with my thoughts, but now my heart is rejoicing. How beautiful the world is when it’s filled with stillness and smiles, friendship, and gentleness! How beautiful when we can touch God in the stillness and His Spirit breaks through the hard shell of our self-centered hearts!

The world is waking up. A car drives by and a TV in one of the houses I pass is blaring something unintelligible. The stillness is broken, but my heart is still full of the stillness of God.

  1. “Happy New Year!” (Dutch)