They’re earworms. The Oxford Dictionary defines an earworm as “a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing.” So whenever I return from the shopping mall or stores, having been subject to all of their piped-in holiday music, for the rest of the day I have to suffer the insidious infestation of “giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up let’s go” or “jingle-bell, jingle-bell, jingle-bell rock” playing over and over through my head ad nauseam.
It is especially an irritation because throughout the season of Advent I try to spend a lot more time in silence. I leave the TV and the radio off and try to enjoy the quiet – but without other noise to drown them out, those earworms have full reign. My head becomes like a broken juke-box to frustrate my spiritual efforts.
In so many ways we Catholics have to fight to reclaim Advent as a time of holy silence and expectant prayer. So I decided that I would do a little de-worming in these days that lead to Christmas.
Every time one of those pseudo-Christmas jingles started to bore and burrow into my head I would counter it. I would repeat to myself a sacred Advent chant like, “Your light will come, Jerusalem; the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.” Or I would pray a decade of the rosary or recite a verse from the psalms over and over. Soon those pesky earworm parasites were gone and my peace was restored.
By the way, this strategy not only gets rid of earworms but it also helps to get rid of worry, fear, despair or any of the other insidious pests that infest our spirits. Let that nasty chaff be burned in the unquenchable fire.
That’s the good news of Advent. Advent is about emptying and cleaning out. It is a time to clear away everything dark, every hopeless thought, everything that tries to fill up the space that the tiny Infant comes to fill. We must prepare Him room. Make sure you’re making lots of space for Him to come. He is coming soon.
Blessed Gaudete Sunday!