My father in law and Samuel, 2003
The past couple of weeks have been very hard for my family. My father in law became gravely ill, spent six days in Intensive Care and eventually was moved to hospice in his hometown. Four days later, he passed away. The world lost a precious, kind man that day.
As we sat at his bedside each day, there were little noises – beeping machines, the hum of computer screens and the buzzing of motorized beds up and down the hall – but the thing I noticed most was the quiet. There were these grand spaces in time where the room was almost silent. While I sat watching him breathe, I would pray a lot. God kept giving me the notion of recognizing these “quiet spaces”. I was not sure what a “quiet space” was, but over and over that phrase came to mind.
As the time wore on, spending so much time in a hospital chair and on the road, I relished finding those quiet spaces. Part of the time it was because it was an escape. I didn’t have to talk about what was going on or explain hard things to my children or do anything at all in those quiet spaces. The quiet spaces meant rest, reflection, remembering and solitude. And sometimes, those things are exactly what you need. But sometimes those quiet spaces were totally focused. Perhaps the greatest gift in those moments is prayer. Not the “Lord please give me…” prayers that we all seem to know so well, but the whispered pleas for forgiveness, strength, peace and hope. Those two or three word prayers that seem to leak from your lips as your heart strains for peace are more powerful than a whole choir singing Jesus Loves Me.
We were surrounded by friends and family, both in person and from far away, texting or emailing, calling or visiting, letting us know they loved us. We were covered in prayers constantly throughout the whole ordeal. I think, in times like these, those prayers are what keep you afloat. My precious husband has been so far beyond exhausted that it has been painful to watch him get up and keep going in all this. On the morning that he drove over to make the funeral arrangements, I offered to go with him, but he said no. He needed that quiet space to think, grieve, pray and probably to drive down fifty little country backroads in search of more quiet spaces.
You may not be facing the loss of a loved one today, but I think we all need more quiet spaces in our lives. Seek yours out, set up camp for a while, and live there each day. I suspect you will find a lot more than silence in your quiet spaces.