Away in a quiet place


A few thoughts from my journal during a personal retreat last week.

After reading a chapter out of Mark Buchanan’s Rest of God, I had to try out what he said.

“Maybe that’s what God requires most from us: our attention. Indeed, this is the essence of a Sabbath heart: paying attention. It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment. It is the trained ability to inhabit our own existence without remainder, so that even the smallest things . . .gain the force of discovery and revelation.” 50″It is the simplest thing to pay attention. But, it is easily neglected. . . Stop, Look. Look close. . . Resolve to live this way more often” (56-57)

Good morning Lord—it is amazing what happens when you come away to a quiet place and rest. Lord, thank you for this rest for my soul—being present in the moment—that is what you want me to learn today. Went out for a walk this morning around 6:15 a.m. with my coffee the kind ladies had prepared on my floor—it was coolish so I wore my grey shirt (not smelling too bad since I had to wear it yesterday), my baggy, grey sweatpants, my navy, blue, windbreaker and running shoes—runners. Runners takes me back to phsy ed and my days in Calgary. Lord, thank you for the joy that is in my heart as I remember with fondness my days in Calgary—my time with Bill’s family—a refuge for a young troubled boy, a place of safety to which I could flee. Then, there was Stan S, my wrestling coach and my cross-county coach, both of whom helped me to believe in myself.

Took a walk around the track—a path, really. The cemetery was surrounded by a grey cloud of mist or fog—I wonder what is the difference? It is as if the spirits of the dead sisters had ascended to hold hands around the perimeter of the graves. Skies were bright blue, lit up by the shining sun and the clouds were shaped like a broad smile—was this your favor shining down to me? All this I saw as I sat on a bench after walking thru the woods—enjoying the coolness, just cool enough so that I could see my breath when I exhaled puffs of white air. To my right and to my left were mounds of fire ants that I was very careful not to disturb, lest my solitude be disturbed! A blade of grass, bent over with the weigh of the dew—a drop of water gently balanced on the tip of the grass—the grass bent like a piece of velvet—looking like the Arc de Triumph (?).

The trees—one in front of me—barren, bare sticks without any leaves and yet full of life—dew drops hanging on branches, not quite enough weight to break the water’s surface tension. A bird perched delicately on the tip of a tall, thin branch—perfectly still, no movement from the branch, the bird confident and in no danger of falling.

The four dogwood trees—white buds. The first, barren and only with a few pieces of dried, shriveled, brown leaves from last year clinging on. The next tree—full of tightly coiled buds, waiting to explode. The next—glimpses of a few delicate blossoms beginning to open but yet the tree remaining almost transparent. The last tree—leaves fully out, flowers bursting forth in dazzling white and yet, not fully at its glorious potential.

Coffee? What you drinking—the real stuff or the play stuff? Could I get some breakfast—I didn’t sign up. Sure—you want some eggs? Well, how about some French toast? You a vegetarian? No, not me, you must be thinking about the other David. You eat meat? Sure. What’s your name? Sam. Been here long? Yep, too long!

A sudden urge, a compulsion that I had to write, that I needed my pen and notebook in front of me. Almost running up the 3 flights of stairs to get my writing instruments—I meet Janet arriving for work—we exchange silent greetings. On my way down, I meet Agnes—who tells me that it may be too early for breakfast. So, I say that I have already talked to the kitchen. Wrong thing to say—you are supposed to be silent, you are not supposed to talk to anyone. You shouldn’t talk to the staff. They will take care of you and will bring your breakfast out.

Uh oh—did I get Sam in trouble? I don’t think he would even care—after all if we are living life here, then spoken words can’t be avoided—I guess I violated the rules. Thank you Lord!

The 2 eggs and 3 pieces of bacon arrive along with 4 pieces of French toast—a bit heavy? Will I get sleepy? I don’t want to do so. I want to capture all that You have for me here, Lord.

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