I never knew the real power of psalms until I read the breathtaking autobiography of Father Gereon Goldmann, The Shadow of His Wings. It was about twenty years ago, while I was living in a monastery surrounded by a garland of misty mountains. This incredible book taught me that God could garland you with protection as mighty as the mountains!
Goldmann was a German from Fulda, with a striking robust figure and an angelic countenance, who entered a Franciscan Monastery with an ardent desire to sail to Eastern ends of the world, to Japan. Destiny led him through unimaginable labyrinths of life, through the excruciating experiences of one of the worst wars in the history of mankind. To be precise, he and all the seminarians who lived with him, were forced to serve the Nazi army of Hitler, during the Second World War.
His life as an ‘SS’ was incredible. Challenges awaited him all the way. But, Goldmann, daring and undaunted by nature, faced them bravely, leaving an impact on everyone who came across. The fiery Catholic in him held his head high amidst the recurring Nazi nastiness. Among those thrilling instances, one that worth special mention was when Goldmann, along with his Catholic companions, chanted aloud Te Deum, the thanksgiving hymn, while they were punitively seated on the branches of a tree. The Nazis stood spellbound in front of this audacious act! Goldmann, forced to go along with the Nazi forces, assumed the role of a Red-cross cadet and later their chaplain, never taking arms nor hurting anyone on the battlefield.
A more touching incident occurred on a dark night in the heart of the battlefield. The battle was in full swing. Goldmann and his troop were lost in some woods in Italy. The British airplanes loaded with shells, hovered over the woods. At any time they could be spotted and shot. Meanwhile, the Second lieutenant, who took charge of Goldmann’s troop, commanded him and a couple of colleagues to return to where the enemy was and bring back the heavily injured ones, whom they had left on the course. The act was obviously imprudent as any attempt to return to the enemy front meant capture. But, they had to succumb to the orders and go. And they went.
The night was dark; the winds had gone crazy. Soon, they realized that were heading to the mouth of danger. The huge British army was above them. They were lost in a hillside. Goldmann, mustering up all his courage, volunteered to proceed alone to the way ahead. He climbed the steep hill alone. In the flickering moonlight, he could see the armed British soldiers surveying the valley. A firing would be the response for any slight movement. Fear got the better of Goldmann’s wits. A bullet might end his life. In spite of all his courage, he couldn’t help trembling. His limbs were weakened. All of a sudden, from where he could never guess, a voice echoed in his ears: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High and who abides in the shadow of the Almighty…” Psalm 91! A flood of words poured down into his heart. He repeated them over and over. He felt comforted, strengthened and fortified. He felt the angels of the Lord carrying him in their arms. His trembling vanished. His fear fell away into some unknown abyss. Pulling out the Red Cross flag from inside his boots, Goldmann climbed the hill, with renewed courage. He was spotted by the enemy. But, no one shot him. He was captured. But none dared to harm him. And Goldmann tread long distances of life, faced unspeakable challenges and experienced millions of miracles. God’s shadow was over him, ever watching over.
Ever since I read the book, the psalm became my stronghold. I began to love it, and dwell in it. In the month of May 2003, I had to undergo a kidney transplantation surgery. Chronic kidney failure had finally led me to the inevitable, after long and tedious years of dialysis and various other treatments. On the previous day of the surgery, one of my relatives, who was supposed to strengthen my mind with encouraging words, stealthily approached me and told me how terrible a surgery I was about to undergo. He said that anything could go wrong during the surgery. Many have died. It gave the feeling that this was going to be my final night alive. A chill passed through my limbs. I felt my wits failing. I was alone in the dark, staring at the void that was before me.
Then, out of the blue, I heard a voice rising from agonizing silence, might be from my memory – “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High and who abides in the shadow of the Almighty…!” I felt like an angel of God flying down for me; words of God being sprinkled from the feathers of his wings: “Though a thousand fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, it shall not come near you…” I lay on the bed, watching all my fears melt away, and blown away in the wind down the valley of oblivion.
On the next day, in the operation theatre, I was so peaceful. My unburdened mind hovered through the valley of God. As the anesthesia began its work, I swooned into the bosom of the Almighty. And when, after long hours, I woke up into the abyss of excruciating pain, I could still hear the words of the psalmist resounding. They were like soothing ripples of a river fondling my soul. And I was just carried away by the ripples…
Who is the real author of this incredible psalm?
Man? God? Or His angels?
മരിയന് ടൈംസില് പ്രസിദ്ധീകരിക്കുന്ന വാര്ത്തകളും ലേഖനങ്ങളും വീഡിയോകളും മരിയന് ടൈംസിന്റെ മൊബൈല് ആപ്പിലൂടെ നിങ്ങള്ക്ക് നേരിട്ട് ലഭിക്കും.