I have often heard people say that they feel nearest to God when they are in the woods, or on the water. There is a lot of truth in that experience.
I try to keep the monthly practice of what some call a “desert day,” a day to be alone with God. In my most recent desert day, I had the privilege of access to a hermitage nestled away in a lonely place overlooking the ocean. The only sound was that of the sea, the wind and the sea birds. All I could see was the wide open and spacious expanse of the ocean and horizon. These simple and natural sights and sounds helped enable me to forget about me. A door opened from which I was simply aware of the hugeness of Life, a Life that I was a small part of.
Sitting with this vision and awareness, I was at rest. No agenda, figuring nothing out, making no plans, rehearsing no conversations, harbouring no grudges. Simply present to everything nature was offering in that moment. This is a form of contemplation, of being at one with God.
This kind of contemplative experience is something that I think came more naturally to past generations like my grand parents who lived in the tiny community of Daniel’s Cove. They and their parents before them lived off the land and the sea. Having to eke a living with their hands out of God’s creation, made them more naturally aware of a bigger Life. Today, with concrete cities and over stimulation through the various forms of media, we need to be more intentional with our alone time with God and our connecting with nature. It would be physically and spiritually good for us to unplug our devices, get outside, breath the fresh air, and be aware of God’s Presence in the creation all around us and within us. You don’t have to take a whole day for this practice. Ten minutes on the back deck would be a good start!
Learning a contemplative practice that will open up a pathway through the noise and clutter on the surface of our consciousness, is a practice that offers the gift of rest and peace from union with God within. It is what we all most desire.
For those of us living in Newfoundland and Labrador we have been given the gift of beautiful landscape and seashore. We don’t have to go far from our doors to have beautiful God-given sights and sounds around us. Lets get out in nature, forgetful of self, alone with God, and rest awhile.