I went hiking on Saturday. The weather was good, and there were plenty of orchids to see. I had woken up early and rushed through most of my weekend chores, so that my time would be clear and uninterrupted. The hours passed slowly in the scrub of a local conservation park. With just the occasional azure butterfly or honeyeater or fairy wren to keep me company, I was perfectly content to breathe the spring air, take in the surroundings, and study the wildflowers. Only when a couple of kangaroos hopped past me, did I realise that the daylight was fading, and made my way back to the car to drive home. The sun set as I was driving home. I had lost track of time, lingering in the beauty and peace of it all.
I love those warmer days when I’m in wandering in nature, or working in the garden, and it is only the setting sun that brings me inside. On those days, time doesn’t move in quite the same way. I think back to a fond memory from my early childhood spent out in the fields behind our house and Dad calling me and my sister in to wash up for tea. Our carefree time of recreation and play interrupted only by tea and family plans. Without that call from Dad, maybe we’d have stayed out exploring forever…
We had our first evening Poetry Church service at Clayton Wesley last night. We were a dozen faces – some familiar, some unfamiliar – gathered together to spend a quiet hour in prayerful contemplation of Scripture. We were meditating on the Beatitudes – and on the nature of blessing. For me, an hour set aside in a quiet place to meditate and to pray, to light a candle and listen to beautiful music is itself a blessing. In Psalm 46 we read the words, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Be still, slow down, let go of the noise and obligation and demands on our time. Lay down the busyness of life for an hour, and listen to what our hearts are feeling. Notice where our mind wanders. Sense new revelations… The sun set while we were meditating inside the church. I didn’t notice; I was thinking how Jesus was God’s Beatitude, like Nadia Bolz-Weber says.
I’ve been reading Brother Lawrence again. He laments that while “God has boundless treasures to give us, [only] a moment’s sense of devotion is enough for us.” For sure, sometimes a moment is all the time we think we can spare. But I wonder, what if that awareness of God’s peace and love and presence didn’t stop when the sun went down or when the duties of life beckoned? In John 15, Jesus says many times to abide in Him and in His love. Abide, remain, dwell, stay, live – all these words appear across the various translations. I’m so thankful for that contemplative hour last night, and I’m blessed to spend the best part of Saturday’s daylight lost in the beauty of nature. But I don’t want to be content with only moments. God is always nearer to us than we think, and we can be mindful of God’s presence throughout our day, amid our labours and responsibilities. We can – and I think we must – carry the peace and love and presence of God into all of our life.
Poetry Church – space for contemplation – occurs every Sunday at 6pm. All are welcome.