Recently we were in the US for my brother’s wedding. It was a wonderful celebration and once it was done we began visiting family and friends. Every ten days we were packing and moving to a new city. During this time school started for my boys. They were still doing online school and their school was gracious enough to allow us to watch the recorded lectures rather than sign in during India time.
Nonetheless, schoolwork was hectic. Trying to manage an Indian school schedule for my boys in a foreign country overwhelmed me. Added to that I had multiple food restrictions for my various health conditions and so I was, even more, overwhelmed trying to plan my meals, stay healthy, pain-free and submit my kids’ assignments on time and generally not sink before I could even start swimming.
At this point, my husband suggested that we try and practise silence and solitude for one week, about three times a day. I knew that long ago the monks had practised this and I knew that CEOs of large companies took out time to meditate or practise silence and solitude but the practice still baffled me. For those of you who know me, I’m an extroverted chatty person and this practice of silence sort of scared me. But I decided to try this out for a week. My husband suggested an app to help me with this time and he asked me to just set aside ten minutes, morning, noon and night.
So I dutifully downloaded the app, very certain that I was not going to like this discipline. I also started doing it because it was something my husband had suggested and I just wanted to tick it off my list of things to do. But as I got into the habit of setting aside ten minutes each time, I realised that I actually enjoyed it. I enjoyed that connection with God three times a day. A connection with my inner self, to calm down and look into my heart. It was this soothing, calming feeling that started enveloping me each time I sat down in silence.
The app suggested a few Psalms to read during the afternoons. One Psalm that I read which really ministered to me was Psalm 66. We had just recovered from Covid when we made our trip to the US. And I felt the Psalmist had beautifully captured and what I was going through. Here is the Psalm and a few of my thoughts on it.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.”
Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot—come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations—let not the rebellious rise up against him.
Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.
For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.
I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfil my vows to you— vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble.
I will sacrifice fat animals to you and an offering of rams; I will offer bulls and goats.
Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
What our family experienced during the second wave of Covid was nothing compared to what others in our country had experienced. We were able to get an online appointment with a doctor. Church members sent food through Swiggy. We didn’t have to be hospitalised. But still, the disease took a toll on us. It felt like we were being refined in the refiner’s fire. It felt like we had burdens on our backs, that we went through fire and water. Every day when we heard the news of loved ones dying it crushed us. The burden was too hard to bear.
And then in the anguish of my heart, I cried out, I cried out to the God who hears and the God who answers. He not only saw me, but He also heard me and brought me to a place of healing and rest. He not only healed me physically, but He brought rest to my soul. He reminded me of the gospel over and over again. He reminded me that I might not be able to keep my vows and promises but He keeps his promises to me. When I was unable to rescue myself Jesus came to rescue me. It was through his life, death and resurrection that I now have a place of abundance. And when I think about that my heart rejoices, it overflows with thankfulness.
When I think about His overwhelming love for me I want to cry out and praise his name. Because He is a God who has surely listened and heard my prayer. He has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!
And so as I sat down every afternoon in silence I allowed the Psalms to be a soothing balm to my soul. In silence and solitude before God, I was reminded that I was not alone and God was not silent.