I've been meaning to start a blog for awhile, after being encouraged by optimistic folks around me, that I really could do this. So, inspired by a morning retreat this weekend, here is my first post, sharing some reflections of the morning......
Today is the last full day of summer. I am spending the morning in retreat, in quiet contemplation and meditation. On a quiet, country road, I strolled across a bridge, morning sun glinting off the water below. I walked past some very old homes - even a schoolhouse from the 1800's. I stopped awhile and stood in the shade of some trees, squirrels scampering and playing above me, running along the outstretched limbs of an ancient maple across the road, making a racket (sounding a lot like a duck). Perhaps it was protesting my intrusion into its neighborhood, the same way I protested each thought that intruded upon my poor attempt at meditation. Make no mistake, I appreciated the opportunity to slow down, to walk in the peaceful surroundings on this beautiful morning. I stood for a very long time, reflecting on the beauty surrounding me, the unknown (to me) history of the area, imagining what it might have been like a hundred or more years ago on this spot. The houses I had passed boasted of their longevity, "Circa 1840", "Build in 1860", "Established in 1848".
While I stood under those trees, looking out at the peaceful waters of one of the creeks or rivers that traverse this eastern shore area of Maryland, I watched a blue heron perched on a platform planted in the water. What a beautiful creature, so still and drawn into itself. Most of the herons I have seen around here are in flight, necks stretched out before, long legs extended after - or, standing along the shoreline of some body of water, majestic, long legs wading, watchful and purposeful in its stance.But this bird simply sat upon the platform, legs no longer even evident - folded beneath it, neck concealed, head resting between its broad shoulders. Seemingly unconcerned, soaking in the sun, at peace with its surroundings.
It's how I wish I could be - able to rest with my legs folded beneath me, rather than poised to spring up and carry me away at a hint of danger; wings folded, relaxed by my side, rather than waiting to take fight at the slightest provocation, head resting on shoulders broad enough to support it without overwhelming it - willing to simply allow my body soak in the warmth and energy of the sun.
I walked back to the very old chapel which was the setting for our retreat. I sat and opened my bible to the psalms, headed on my way to Psalm 121 or 113 - two of my favorite psalms. But on my way I stumbled across and rested instead upon Psalm 91 - "You who live in the shelter of the Most High...who abide in the shadow of the almighty...will say to the Lord, 'my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust..." Trust and dependence are implicit in these words. Claiming God as a refuge and fortress means that ultimately, it is God in whom I trust - God who will see to my eternal well-being. How good am I in such surrender? Not very good, as it turns out. It is hard enough to depend on those I can see, touch, and physically witness to. How much harder it is to place an even deeper level of trust and dependence on a God I cannot see, feel, or give physical witness to.
"He will deliver..."
"He will cover..."
"His faithfulness is a shield and a buckler..."
For now, I will sit in quiet wonder at the immense comfort of these words and the reassurance that it's okay to tuck my legs under, to let my wings fall relaxed, at my side, and simply "abide in the Shadow of the Almighty." For now, I will listen for the small, still breath that fills me when I am empty.For now, I will simply bask in the warmth and promise of these words of comfort, protection, and hope.