to let myself be present to whatever is being offered
I was very blessed to spend four days and nights away for retreat time last weekend. Tucked away in a little cabin in the woods, off grid (no electricity or running water) with a little outdoor kitchen and compost loo, I was given the gift of space and time.
The simplicity of ‘being’ is something that can elude us in our all too busy lives. We can lack the time to watch the breeze through the leaves of a tree, to listen to birdsong or watch clouds pass by. These few days gave me that gift and a whole lot more besides!
I happened to coincide my stay with gale force winds and driving rain. Every day I walked the coast path (accessible from my little cabin) with a view of wild, boiling seas whilst being buffeted by the wind and soaked by the rain. I was struck by the wild nature of God, the way that She can’t be boxed in by our little ways and thoughts. I was struck by how the trees bend with the wind allowing themselves to move with rather than against it. I was struck by how nature goes with the flow of what comes, the sheep hunkering down as they wait for storms to pass, gulls using the wind as a means to soar and play. I too allowed myself to get soaked through knowing I would warm up in front of the cabin’s wood-burner.
On my return a friend and I were talking about time and our life-rhythms, bemoaning the fact that we couldn’t quite bend it to fit with our desires or wants, both of us feeling a lack rather than an abundance of this most precious of gifts. We talked about how we endure certain parts of our days in order to reach more desirable parts of it.
As I pondered this, I was reminded that every part of every day is a gift whatever it contains and if only I could let that be true and let myself be present to whatever is being offered, how much richer and content my life would be. This isn’t a new thought but I know I need reminding of it often. To live this way is what it means to live a contemplative life. The contemplative life isn’t only about those moments in prayer, reading or silence, the contemplative life is living in a way that is present and alive to very moment even when that moment is doing a chore or being buffeted by gales.
I love how the Mother Earth lives this way and invites me to do the same. She bends with the wind, she soaks up the rain, she basks in the sun. She hunkers down when necessary and sometimes breaks but even her breaking enters the soil and becomes life once more.
May we all receive the grace to welcome life and be present to every moment, may we grow in our ability to receive it all as gift and in doing so may we know what it is to experience a richer, more content life.