SOLITUDE AND CONTEMPLATION
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalm 46:10
It was the week before Christmas. I was alone in Seattle Washington, far from my home in Texas. My heart was in pain. A series of crimes were committed against my daughters in their childhood. The results were prison for the offender and divorce. Eventually my daughters, as they entered adulthood, became estranged. Those events over a couple of years had driven me as far away from home as I could go and still be in the USA. I was in graduate school in Seattle. My parents and I stayed in touch via mail and weekly telephone calls. They never heard from my girls either. The pain from the previous two years was sharp and crushing. The guilt was paralyzing. This would be my first Christmas totally alone – ever. How would I survive this holiday? Would I be so lonely that I would drown in tears? Would I use the holiday time well? Or would I engage in my preferred coping activity – hide under the comforter and sleep?
I opened my Bible one morning and searched for verses about peace, rest and healing. The first verse I read was one I knew well.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1 NIV
I had prayed without ceasing through all of those horrible weeks and months leading up to this very day. It was a comforting reminder. Then I found another verse.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV
I decorated a small tree – something simple and different. A childhood friend sent me a delicate glass Nativity and it arrived on Christmas eve. I took each piece out of the box and contemplated the life of each person, and animal. I studied the manger. I thought about the fabrics, the textures, the plants in the area, and the young mother of our Lord and Savior. I considered what parenthood was like at that time. Then, I asked God to give me rest, solitude, and peace. Very soon, I felt a lightening of the weight I carried. That evening I went out for a walk and stopped in for a church service. Later I went to a midnight service at another church. Walking home on that brisk starry night, I felt joy! My heart was glad.
Christmas Day, I attended two more church services between which I read my Bible in silence, walked about the city and thought about everything God had arranged in order to allow me some healing. In the afternoon I dozed a while and awoke refreshed. Then I thanked God for the solitude and contemplation that HE had given me. I was not lonely because I was not alone. I was and am so blessed.
By Alice Chambers, Hurting Moms Leader – Neches, Texas