My quest for spiritual nourishment brought me to Saint Edward State Park, one of my favorite parks in the area. This park exists now on what used to be a seminary built in 1931. The seminary building and spacious grounds on the shore of Lake Washington remain beautiful. The day was a rare gorgeous, dry January day. A few puffy clouds shared the sky with the endless blue and a bright shiny object that I've heard is the sun.
I took off on a foot path I've never taken. As the path wound through the tall trees I prayed as I know how to pray. A few minutes later, I hear "shut up" in my head. I pause and work at shifting my brain into "being" rather than "doing". As I continued to meander along the path the words "be still" entered my mind. I rhythmically repeated these words while slowing my breathing to match my strolling pace. In time I connected to the beauty that surrounded me, and began to commune with God in his created space. Yes, this is my heart's true desire.
After a bit my mind quieted and I was more able to notice and delight in the many intricacies of the forest, the very things that drew me to God so long ago. As I walked a hymn from, my faith community in Vermont came to mind - "Peace, be still and know that I am God". We always sang it in rounds, as a contemplative prayer. I walked and sang this prayer in my mind as I noticed the forest beauty around me.
I noticed little patches of snow around the forest floor, slowly melting. I felt my heart was also slowly melting as my connection with God slowly reawakened.
One summer long ago while attending summer camp, we did what was called a "sit and watch" which involved going off by oneself in the forest away from everything, sitting on a log or rock and just noticing. No talking, no thinking, no nothing. Just being with nature and taking it in for about 15 minutes. It was powerful.
Along the trail was a bench that provided the perfect spot for sitting and just being. I took the invitation and sat and listened and watched.
Tears came as so many old memories rose into the consciousness. Faces, voices, experiences - all gone now. My heart was grieving the loss of my faith community in Vermont. I realized it was at this time in my life where my worship template was formed. I didn't know at the time that such a place and experience would never be again. It was a once in a lifetime few years which forever shaped who I am and how I commune with God.
As I resumed my walk the words "I miss you God" bubbled up from my heart. More grieving, this time from a place of missing regular meaningful connection with God. I know I have not been intentional about creating space for that connection and the natural landscape and architecture of this area doesn't naturally foster that relationship.
It feels good to grieve, to feel. The emotional thawing I am desiring is underway, perhaps the Spring thaw has come early!
Maybe it's not too late for a New Year's resolution; to be still.