Several phone calls had made the morning stressful. I was tired, so tired. I decided to take it easy instead of catching up on more work. I sat in the garden room with a cup of coffee and began to knit.
I slowed my breathing to match the rhythm of contemplative knitting. This is my practice. I breathed a prayer. The sunlight shone on my face through the slats of the vertical blinds. I picked up a book lying in a pile neglected on the summer table: “The House by the Sea”.
A random reading became a welcome contrast to my disciplined course reading of late. It began: “Yesterday I lay around all day, sometimes on my bed upstairs, sometimes on the chaise longue on the porch, looking at the flowers. I enjoyed the lovely rooms in which I live, the light, the spaciousness…”. Peace started to blanket my mind.
May Sarton’s experience blended with my own. She continued: “Two days ago the purple finches came back… lovely to lie still and watch the wings coming and going…”. An interlude of words, of colour and patterned movement, a little sun, a sighed prayer brought calm to my type A personality. Now I can go back to work. In Genesis on week one of the earth, even God rested. Thank you.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot
As I continue with reading “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas I feel inspired to put some of his ideas into practice this year. One thing I realized as I read about the practice of an ascetic surprised me. I had not considered myself as being an ascetic, yet when I read the words: “In a crowd or at a party, sometimes I try to ‘sneak in’ a few moments of solitude… All I know that it is in those solitary moments that colors regain their brightness, truth regains its clarity, and reality loses its fog”, I see years of my own behavior come into focus.
Finally last September it seemed like the right time. I had also felt a longing to take a train ride. I put the two together and off I went alone on an adventure. The things I saw and experienced there will fill my mind and heart all winter and hopefully give energy to the preparations for my contemplation and creativity workshops. When I returned from the trip of exploration a new depth of knowledge about art, the city, God and myself returned to Vancouver with me.
Sometimes it is difficult to separate the outer and the inner life. Yet when I study and reap the benefits of knowledge about God and God’s ways a little action can turn the learning into real growth as a person and in my lived relationship with God and others. The way we live our lives affects those around us. I read again in “Sacred Pathways: “Each Christian life of prayer…however deeply hidden or apparently solitary in form, will affect the life of the whole Body.” It might just be that one of the ‘Sacred Pathways’ for me is to be a modern day ascetic. I find this invitation exciting: “Let her find in the busy city the desert of the monks.”