To begin with a question: Am I the only person failing to experience extra time on their hands? This phrase ‘extra time on our hands’ has been used a lot in the past couple of weeks. Of course it can not apply to those working in essential services but is used as a generalisation for the majority of us confined to our homes.
I have found the rapid escalation from social distancing to ‘lock-down’ to be quite an overwhelming experience. I am used to having time on my own during the day; now I share our house with a home working husband and a dissertation writing son. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad not to be home alone and we are fortunate enough to be able to use separate areas of the house to do our daily work. Many of my weekly events have been successfully transferred to the internet. A week ago I’d never heard of Zoom, this week I’ve been to Church, met my women’s Bible study group, gathered our Housegroup together and been to a Pilates class via the wonders of Zoom :-O
All of which is wonderful and I’m sure as the weeks of lock-down continue I will be ever more grateful for these link-ups BUT how about a bit of time and space to grasp the ‘new reality’ which differs so much from the ‘old normal’? Technology has enabled us to bring our old normal into play with our new reality. There has been little opportunity to sit back and take on board what is happening. I find myself choosing not to listen to the radio or even music. Not because I’m thinking deeply but just because I can’t take in any more information; any more words or sounds; process any more new experiences (queuing outside supermarkets, wondering if going to the allotment is permissible daily exercise?).
I have begun a slow reading of the Book of Psalms. Today I read Psalm 4 and was struck by the word ‘ponder’ in verse four (other translations use the phrase ‘search your hearts’). Here are definitions and synonyms of PONDER:
…think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.…to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply.Consider, contemplate, meditate, study, wrestle (with)
In the context of Psalm 4 the writer is instructing the reader not to give in to anger that would lead to acts of revenge, rather to ‘ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent‘. I’m feeling ‘overwhelm’ rather than anger but I think it is not stretching the meaning of this Psalm to apply it to present preoccupations. In these modern times when instant reactions are the norm it is hard to give ourselves up to the quiet, sober, deep practice of pondering. At the end of our pondering we may well conclude our initial reactions were wrong, ill-judged, unhelpful, possibly unkind and so be thankful we took the advice to ‘ponder in our hearts’ before acting, seeking instead to find what the Psalmist found:
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
I need to take a step back from all the activity of bringing the old normal into the new reality; to ponder the current situation, ponder what is in my heart and discover afresh God’s perfect peace. How about you? Too much time on your hands or has the old busyness been transferred into the lock-down thus obstructing the Psalmists instruction to ponder?
With blessings to you and your household.