This past week I had some time to wander in our garden while on a ‘semi-retreat’. My wife was away and it was a moment to step back and just ‘be’ a bit. So much seemed brown, decayed, dead. However, as one looked closer I was struck by the vast amount of burgeoning life in the midst of signs of death. Roses rejoicing with the tiniest of buds scarcely visible to the human eye – or mine at least! Majestic aloes luring the most splendid of Malachite Sunbirds, graceful oaks still clothed in beautiful golden browns. And that gentle winter light! How it crept into every corner and transformed the landscape.
I came away from this ‘prayer walk’ in my garden with two key thoughts. Firstly, how important it is to create ‘God gaps’ in the midst of the busyness. Yes, even for those who run a small retreat house and probably are meant to have more time than most for prayer! We can get so busy with the routine of our lives that we fail to pause. How important it is to create time to simply be with God – ‘retreats’ big and small, formal and informal, structured and unstructured. Time to pause and allow God to speak without the noise of our modern life drowning out the ‘still small voice’. Secondly, these moments help us to see the world differently. So often we see but do not really see. We fail to see God in our midst at work in the bleakness and the beauty. Surely this is something of the tussle going on in John 9. Some could see what God was doing, but some would not. It takes time and openness to God to ‘see’ clearly.
Let us pause, breathe deeply and open our eyes to God at work in us and around us longing to transform our lives.
Macrina Wiederkehr in Seven sacred pauses has a beautiful prayer;
“O living breath of God,
O you in whom we live and move and have our being!
We have been asleep too long. Heal the unseeing part of our lives. Lead us to our awakening places. Awaken us to the new Light. Open the doors of our hearts, the windows of our souls, the walls of our minds. Awaken us to hope. Awaken us to Joy. Awaken us to Love. Awaken us to new insights. Make our hearts ready to receive the brightness of your Presence.”